Director’s Letter

by Kenneth R. Rutherford [ CISR ] - view pdf

Dear Readers,

Every few years we are reminded of our increasing interconnectedness as a global community and of the prodigious responsibility this presents. Images of the Arab Spring, most recently from Syria but also from elsewhere in the Middle East, vault from the Internet to the evening news and into newspapers everywhere. We can easily get caught up in newer conflicts and lose sight of long-term recovery.

CISR Director, Ken Rutherford, compares prosthetics with a patient at a prosthetic clinic in Vietnam, March 2012.
Photo courtesy of CISR.CISR Director, Ken Rutherford, compares prosthetics with a patient at a prosthetic clinic in Vietnam, March 2012.
Photo courtesy of CISR.

The seemingly unending period of post-conflict recovery can be dispiriting. Even the most stable communities face decades of rehabilitation to overcome trauma. How then can we tackle these problems in a world with a shorter attention span? What components for stability can we cultivate in our community of practice that will endure long after we leave?

Time and again, CISR has witnessed how protecting and promoting the rights of people with disabilities can be a catalyst of change for communities affected by war, conflict and trauma. Survivors are champions, pushing boundaries and overcoming prejudice to remake societies into inclusive spaces. When the world’s attention shifts to the latest hot spot, survivors remain in their communities to work, unabated. Resourceful and indomitable, they persevere and promote the long-term success of their communities.

In this issue of The Journal, our Special Report section focuses on how conversations about disability rights are driving development in communities around the world. When survivors and their advocates push for access, dignity and change, everyone benefits. In her article, “Victim Assistance and Disability Rights: Beyond the Rhetoric,” Sheree Bailey discusses the importance of turning the ideas from the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into concrete action in the mine action community. Dr. Martin Chitsama discusses an HIV/AIDS survey of deminers in southern Angola, with some surprising findings. In the Feature section, CISR Trauma Rehabilitation Specialist Cameron Macauley explains the development of the Centre d'Encadrement et de Développement des Anciens Combattants’ (Training Center for Development of Ex-Combatants) peer-support programs in Burundi. More articles on related topics can be found in our online-only edition at

My hope is that CISR, through The Journal and other resources, can serve as a place to convene our community of practice. What innovations are your organizations bringing to the field? Where are the next frontiers for humanitarian assistance? What’s next? We would love to dialogue with you. Join our post-conflict forum and start a conversation by telling us what you think. globe

Ken Rutherford

Center for International Stabilization and Recovery
James Madison University
MSC 4902
Harrisonburg, VA 22807 / USA
Tel: +1 540 568 4941