Democracy & Governance
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- Introduction: Economic Recovery Strategies
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Security & Public Order
- Security Sector Reform & Governance
- Small Arms & Light Weapons
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Reconciliation is broadly considered by policymakers, practitioners, and academics alike as a process centrally needed in societies emerging from violent conflicts. Because reconciliation is part of a long process, one should not necessarily expect it to be the end point of a conflict. But all analyses concur that no intractable conflict can really end without some kind of reconciliation process if the parties to the conflict are going to interact again in the future. This subsection explores the multiple facets of reconciliation processes in peacebuilding contexts.
The term 'reconciliation' is frequently used both in the literature and practice of peacebuilding but it is rarely defined. It is used to address very different points and also has a tendency to hold a range of underlying assumptions, depending on the actor employing the term. This can at times create contradictions. However, from the study of a large variety of sources, it is possible to identify a number of elements on which most academics and practitioners agree in terms of the definition of reconciliation. The writing highlights those key elements as well as related expressions used such as 'social reconciliation', 'political reconciliation', and 'national reconciliation'.
The following section explores the multiple connections between reconciliation and the different components of peacebuilding processes as social, political, economic and cultural rules are being transformed and new forms of relationships and social identifies are being produced. It also explains how, for those who define peacebuilding as 'conflict transformation', reconciliation actually encompasses all dimensions of peacebuilding.
Different models have attempted to articulate the main dimensions of reconciliation: shared truths, justice, regard and security - although academics and practitioners may at times define these terms differently. The writing proceeds to explain how these dimensions are generally understood and also to refer to a few alternative ways of articulating them. It also provides an overview of specific and targeted programs which claim for themselves the label of reconciliation; they include initiatives undertaken at the international, national and community-based level. The range of actors involved in these programs is also presented.
The reference to the notion of 'reconciliation' is by no means neutral and is at the origin of many ideological debates and theoretical discussions which have concrete consequences when decisions have to be made and activities are to be conducted. The first part of this section attempts to present the main issues discussed by scholars and practitioners alike: the negative overtones of reconciliation; the many expectations convened through the notion; the fact that there is not always a 're' in reconciliation; individual versus collective reconciliation; the acknowledgement of the religious connotations of 'reconciliation'; reconciliation versus forgiveness; reconciliation versus justice.
At the implementation stage, reconciliation processes are complicated, full of paradoxes, and concrete challenges. They have to do in particular with: the conditions and sequencing of reconciliation processes: how to plan a reconciliation policy and sequence the steps in its various dimensions; the necessity to conceive reconciliation as a priority, not a peripheral activity, and the difficulties associated to this; the necessity to combine top-down andbottom-up approaches; the importance of considering local cultures and contexts; the necessity of fostering local ownership of the entire process.
Useful resources and references to additional information are provided at the end of the subsection.