Reconciliation: Reconciliation & Peacebuilding Processes

Reconciliation is broadly considered by policymakers, practitioners, and academics alike as a process centrally needed in societies emerging from violent conflicts.1 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. "If they do not, the conflict is likely to recur, even after a settlement of a particular episode (or dispute) is reached."2

Conversely, reconciliation requires that structural injustices in the political, social, judicial and economic domains be addressed. Indeed, "if the patterns from the past that produced and sustained violence remain unchanged, they will eventually produce the same outcome. Reconciliation must therefore be supported by a gradual sharing of power, an honouring of each other's political commitments, the creation of a climate conducive to economic justice and a willingness among the population at large to accept responsibility for the past and for the future. Political, social and economic justice is a foundation of durable reconciliation."3

This section explores these multiple and intimate connections between reconciliation and the different components of peacebuilding processes. It also explains how, for those who define peacebuilding as 'conflict transformation,' reconciliation actually encompasses all dimensions of peacebuilding. In other words, every single activity engaged through the conflict transformation lens can be understood as reconciliation.

Reconciliation and conflict transformation

John Paul Lederach, a key scholar in the field of peace studies, speaks of conflict transformation as a holistic and multi-faceted approach to managing violent conflict in all its phases. The term signifies an ongoing process of transformation from negative to positive relations, behavior, attitudes and structures.4 This approach to peacebuilding not only tries to find solutions to the issues underlying the conflict but also works to alter the structural elements that underlie the conflict as well as the adversaries relationships, which is what reconciliation is about.5  Go to The conceptual origins of peacebuilding

Transforming relationships and reframing situations

In Lederach's own words, "A sustainable transformative approach suggests that the key lies in the relationship of the involved parties, with all that the term encompasses at the psychological, spiritual, social, economic, political and military levels."6 This generally entails reframing situations, i.e. "creating a new context in which people attack problems, rather than each other."7 NGOs that apply this approach explain that the objective is to shift the perception of a situation so that both sides can start working together on a common problem, rather than seeing each other as the problem.8
Go to Memorialization, historiography & history education

Reconciliation as a process of change and redefinition of relationships
Reconciliation as a process of change and redefinition of relationships therefore pushes beyond the resolution of a particular issue and toward a framework that embeds that issue in the context of the broader system and the root causes that underlie the symptomatic expression of the conflict. In concrete terms, reconciliation processes always envision the issue as a potential opportunity to explore, understand, and changes the deeper patterns and causes that have given rise to violent expressions of conflict in the relationship.

Source: Lederach, John Paul. Civil Society and Reconciliation In Turbulent Peace The Challenges of Managing International Conflict, edited by Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson and Pamela Aall. (Washington D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 2001), 841-854, 847.

(Re)building trust

The issue of trust is central to the idea of transforming relationships. "In deep-rooted conflicts where the parties are not simply disputing over material interests but are suffering from deeply damaged social relationships, rebuilding trust is a key step towards resolution and transformation." 9 For that reason, typically a series of initiatives will specifically aim at building and strengthening that trust.

Transforming beliefs and attitudes

As Karen Brounus, psychologist, explains, "violence, fear and hatred during war result in the modernization of old myths and stereotypes to explain one's own or some other groups behaviour and thereby justify whatever gruesome atrocities are committed. After the war, the societal and cultural fabric is drenched with these beliefs. They can be seen in how history is described, how the language is used, in education, the media, theatre, etc. In order to live in peace, these beliefs must be questioned and transformed."10 Indeed, the transformation of stereotyped beliefs is a crucial objective of many reconciliation initiatives. But this transformation process is also at the heart of all aspects of the peacebuilding agenda as social, political, economic and cultural rules are being transformed and new forms of relationships and social identifies are being produced.11 This is also what reconciliation is about.

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Reconciliation and other psycho-social recovery mechanisms

Reconciliation is intrinsically linked to different psycho-social recovery mechanisms at play in a given peacebuilding process. Three of them deserve particular attention:

  • The link between reconciliation and trauma healing;
  • The link between reconciliation and history and memory work;
  • The role of religions and religious actors in reconciliation processes.

Reconciliation and trauma healing

Academics and practitioners insist on the fact that healing and reconciliation need to go together, "especially when the groups that have engaged in violence against each other continue to live together."12 There is an interactive linkage between trauma healing and reconciliation. The beginning of healing is generally considered to enhance the possibility of reconciliation, while reconciliation furthers the possibility of healing. The processes of reconciliation and healing actually appear to be cyclical and reinforce each other, from one generation to the next, ultimately contributing to the prevention of future violence. First, reconciliation processes can be demanding both cognitively and emotionally. Hence, it is important that immediate emotional needs are attended to.13 In the words of Ervin Staub et al., "while the nature of psychological wounds of survivors, perpetrators and bystanders varies greatly, as does the moral meaning of their woundedness, healing by each group can facilitate reconciliation."14 Individuals need to heal from wounds that result from being harmed,15 but also from having harmed others, or being a member of a group that has harmed others. Indeed, some analysts stress the fact that for reconciliation to take place, "perpetrators and members of the perpetrator group who may not have engaged in violence also need to heal."16 But as reconciliation begins, it can, in turns, contribute to the 'healing' process for survivors. Several mechanisms may be at play here. First, the reconciliation process generally increases the feeling of security, which facilitates further healing easier.17 Reconciliation activities may also help "make sense of injuries" and deal with deep physical and emotional wounds.18 For instance, public acknowledgement of the events may allow the survivors and victims relatives to engage in a mourning process.19 This explains that many consider that healing generally proceeds from a reconciliation process.20 In the words of Ervin Staub et al., "psychologists, progress in one realm fosters progress in the other in this cycle."21 The connection between the two is exemplified by those cases in which traditional rituals are clearly meant and experienced as both healing and reconciliation rituals.  Go to Trauma, mental health and psycho-social well-being

History, memory and reconciliation

History and memory work undertaken in the context of peacebuilding is meant to support reconciliation processes and the construction of a re-imagined political community. Indeed, "various studies have shown how much that memory is intrinsically linked to identity and the transmission of memory and history in a post-conflict period can play a significant role in evolving new identities of citizenship,"22 a process at the root of reconciliation.

Having a sense of a shared history is a central component in the formation of identities and what is generally referred to as the reconciliation process. National and international researchers generally agree that a fundamental goal of history education is to "transmit ideas of citizenship and both the idealized past and the promised future of the community."23 It is not surprising, then, that reforms to history education are nearly always specifically about changing the representations of the political community's past "to promote tolerance, inclusiveness, an ability to deal with conflict nonviolently, and the capacity to think critically and question assumptions that could again be manipulated to instigate conflict."24 It is often complemented by the concept of 'peace [or peacebuilding] education' which seeks to support "an educational process that allows students to articulate, accommodate and accept differences between and within groups [...]. This entails a distinct two-fold process that nurtures and constructs positive inter-group relations while marginalizing and deconstructing negative inter-group relations."25

History education occupies a specific place in the reconciliation process in that it reaches beyond the elite level and becomes "part of people's lives, and also part of the mid-level and grass-roots institutions, such as schools, whose workings relate more closely to the lives of average citizens."26 More specifically, secondary school history education revision is thought to complement and deepen other reconciliatory processes in the society, including acknowledgement and truth-telling. "Changes in history textbooks and curricula would function as a kind of secondary phase, which would reflect and embody the states commitment to institutionalizing earlier processes such as truth and historical commissions and official gestures and processes of acknowledgement, apology, and repair."27

Though "history education potentially can promote reconciliation, a certain stage of reconciliation needs to be reached before textbooks can be revised, the public can accept these revisions, which challenge narratives held dear by certain sectors of the population, and teachers can challenge discredited narratives and stereotypes and risk controversy in the classroom."28 It is also important to note that more empirical research and analysis are needed to better understand and assess the role that the teaching of history in schools and community-based educational programs can play in inhibiting or promoting reconciliation.29

Memorialization also presents a powerful arena for such processes, in particular as it works with contested memory.30 "When memory projects go beyond the role of museums to become centers of discourse on the past, they become living examples of the reconciliation process, signifying the populations recognition of the past and its affirmation of a different future. [...]They are critical to the process of deepening a country's democracy by creating avenues for building trust and mutual understanding."31 Most projects developed in that context also help build a symbolic space for people to orient themselves towards a new future which includes the possibility of coexistence and reconciliation with former enemies.32

The role of religions and religious actors in reconciliation

The teachings and practices of major world religions reveal spiritual and moral formulations that support, among other elements, reconciliation and harmony within and between humanity and divinity.33

On this basis, some religious actors and faith-based NGOs advocate and train others in the methodologies of nonviolence or promote reconciliation because of religiously based pacifist convictions.34 Organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, United Religions Initiatives and Religions for Peace, among others, have focused their attention on reconciliation training. Many faith-based NGOs support peace education programs comprising specific training in conflict resolution, democracy or human rights but also the development of peace curriculum for schools or the training of educators on issues such as justice and reconciliation. Different religious organizations and networks are also engaged in training programs to educate religious leaders on these relevant issues.35 Inter-faith dialogues, part of the same dynamic as religion, are also used as a vehicle to help forge reconciliation. There are also increased numbers of religion-based citizens groups focused on bringing about reconciliation.36

In different countries, religious leaders have also supported the truth-telling role by advocating and implementing appropriate instruments of transitional justice. Among the two most famous examples are the role played by religious leaders in the Truth & Reconciliation Commissions (TRC) in South Africa and Guatemala. In Sierra Leone, during the final stage of the TRC, the Commission invited the Inter-Religious Council (IRC) to initiate joint reconciliation activities in the districts and to set up structures that will continue operating beyond the mandate of the TRC.37 In Northern Uganda, Acholi religious leaders organize peace campaigns, train community leaders in conflict resolution, and press for amnesty and rehabilitation for former child combatants.38  Go to Religion

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Democracy, governance and reconciliation processes

Reconciliation mechanisms are inherently politicized processes.39 They involve:

  • The restoration of a political community and civil society;
  • The (re)building of civic trust;
  • The revision/drafting of a Constitution as a document that (re)affirms those values, instituting rights, and providing reforms of state apparatuses in order to build trust;
  • Democratization processes;
  • Electoral processes as the organization of elections has become an important component of many conflict resolutions;
  • Capacity building of peace media as they play an instrumental role in reconciliation.

Reconciliation, the restoration of a political community, and civil society

Political reconciliation is about building a re-imagined political community. In other words, it is not about restoring a pre-existing community or an ideal image that would already be available. Instead, the sense of community will be in part the contingent outcome of politics. In the words of Andrew Schapp, "political scientist, political reconciliation begins (rather than ends) with the invocation of a 'we.' Faith in the possibility of community enables a collective reckoning with the past in terms of which former enemies might eventually arrive at a shared understanding of what went before."40 This political process needs to be understood both as a bottom-up and top-down one in which "collective and individual imaginations find ways to create a relatively small set of shared meanings and patterns of thought that will create a perception of safety, in which more complex forms of shared meanings and mutuality might grow."41

In post-conflict societies, these processes are neither linear nor easy, particularly as coping mechanisms used by individuals may be "anchored not in deep community-based mechanisms, but rather in the essential individual struggle for survival."42 This observation made by Peter Uvin, based on his experiences in Burundi, echoes in part his diagnosis of civil society in Rwanda.43 The difficulty of fostering collective action, given extreme poverty as well as high levels of distrust within society, and between society and the state, is quite common in pre- and post-conflict environments. It constitutes a great obstacle to the (re)building of both a political community and a vital civil society. Some civil society actors may also assume uncivil roles or be as discredited as political elites. Therefore, they are likely to be distrusted by the general population. For all these reasons, civil society plays an important yet complex role in reconciliation processes.   Go to Civil Society - Uncivil society

Reconciliation and the building of civic trust

One key reconciliation anchor highlighted by most of the literature is the building of some kind of trust and confidence not only in others, in terms of shared norms and values, but also in the state and its institutions. Indeed, "if genuine coexistence is to take place, then the building of trust is indispensable. If trust is absent, citizens will not be prepared to invest their energies in the consolidation of democracy."44 It is referred to as 'civic' trust in the sense that it can develop among citizens who are members of the same political community but are nonetheless strangers to one another. "In this view, reconciliation is the condition under which citizens can once again trust one another as citizens. That means that they are sufficiently committed to the norms and values that motivate their ruling institutions; sufficiently confident that those who operate those institutions do so also on this basis; and sufficiently secure about their fellow citizens' commitment to abide by these basic norms and values."45 However, this is a long process: "One cannot expect that this will happen immediately. Trust can be broken in an instant but may take years to be re-established."46 Civic trust as here understood is not just a state of mind but a host of conditions that make institutions trustworthy.47

Reconciliation and revision/drafting of Constitutions

Trust and the attachment to common values essential to any political community are intimately linked to the process of revising or drafting a new constitution, an important dimension of many post-conflict peacebuilding scenarios. A constitution is ultimately a document that (re)affirms those values, instituting rights, and providing reforms of state apparatuses in order to build trust, with the aim of building a political community and hence entrenching a basis for state legitimacy. One important component of any constitution is the definition of citizenship, another element central in the reconciliation process as it relates to identities. Constitutions exist also to ensure the inalienable rights of every citizen, ideally without distinction as to race, religion, sex, or belief.

The process through which a constitution is drafted or amended can also be a key moment for reconciliation. Participatory constitution-making is generally recommended as it provides a unique opportunity to encourage a process that promotes national reconciliation and the creation of a national vision for the future of the country.48 Consultative processes allow the discussion of the constitution draft with communities and can help clarify the expectations of all parties and contribute to the production of a legal instrument, which will serve as a base for tangible reconciliation.49 A number of activities undertaken to support the whole process also directly contribute to reconciliation. Programs of civic education, in particular, aim to educate the people in the values, institutions and procedures embodied in the new constitution, and which are supposed to lead towards reconciliation.

Reconciliation and democratization

The link between reconciliation and democratization processes is largely acknowledged in the literature and considered to be a mutually reinforcing relationship. Democracy enables greater societal reconciliation to take place via many routes, including increased civic engagement, rule of law, equality legislation, and the recognition of both collective rights of minorities and the individual rights of citizens.

However, although democracy-building in war-torn societies is often correlated with peace and reconciliation processes, neither non-violent management of societal conflicts nor inter-communal coexistence can be achieved by simply 'launching' democracy.50 It has to be an ongoing process, especially in countries where oppression has been deep and lasting.

This process must also have an impact on the life chances of ordinary people. This means that institutions themselves have to reflect the reconciliation agenda. "For example, in Northern Ireland, equality laws and 'Good Relations' legislation ensure that not only are equality needs and respect for all aspects of diversity protected by the rule of law, but that any organization that receives public monies must ensure that its policies and practices assist interdependence, or 'good relations,' between the communities."51

In the same vein, care needs to be given to the decentralization and the devolution of power, developed to correlate with emerging needs for greater autonomy and responsibility at a local level. Such arrangements can often diffuse political conflict by helping to accommodate collective identities within a state framework. The decentralization of power can also provide a way to recognize diversity and at the same time engage groups in central participatory and decision-making processes.52 These territorial arrangements need to be reflected in fiscal measures.

Another important contribution of the democratic framework to the reconciliation process is that it is the only political model which allows for a continuous and healthy debate about the past, and also for disagreements to be managed peacefully.53 However, it should be noted that some democratic theorists have shown concern about some 'thick' understandings of reconciliation as the pursuit of communal order and social harmony. Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson, for instance, claim that an excessive concern with social consensus and political agreement can threaten deliberative politics. Accordingly, they argue that societies, including those addressing collective wrongdoing, should be guided by the principle of "the economy of moral disagreement," in which citizens build consensus where it is feasible and maintain mutual respect where it is not.54 This would be a much more hospitable scenario both to the maintenance of a true democratic debate and for human rights and reconciliation.  Go to thin or thick reconciliation

This leads to the question of 'how does reconciliation lead to the consolidation of democratic transitions?' Some analysts actually argue that reconciliation can give rise, in turn, to the consolidation of democratic change through several specific processes related to the reduction of inter-group conflict. These are described in the table below put together by James L. Gibson, political scientist. The table portrays a set of mechanisms through which reconciliation institutions and processes might help mitigate inter-group conflict and enhance the prospects of democratic consolidation. Gibson does not contend that the only successful road to democratization requires "some sort of truth and reconciliation process, but rather that some sort of reconciliation-commitment to tolerance, rule of law, and so on-is essential for most democracies to be consolidated; democratic consolidation cannot take place without at least the rudiments of a democratic political culture. And a democratic culture grounded in reconciliation is likely to be more stable than one that is not."55

Connecting Reconciliation and Democratic Consolidation

Component of Reconciliation

Mechanism for Mitigating Intergroup Conflict and Enhancing Democratic Consolidation

Reduction of political intolerance

Expansion of individual freedom and an unrestricted marketplace of ideas

Reduction of intergroup prejudice

Increased intergroup trust and cooperation

Support for a human rights culture

Increased constraints on the ability of authorities to suspend/manipulate the rule of law

Institutional legitimacy

Expanded capacity of institutions to make unpopular but necessary decisions; increased acquiescence

Collective memory

Redirecting political debate from the past to the future

Source: James L Gibson. The Contributions of Truth to Reconciliation: Lessons From South Africa. The Journal of Conflict Resolution 50, no. 3 (June 1, 2006): 409-432.

Reconciliation and electoral processes

The organization of elections is an important component of many conflict resolution scenarios. It affects and is affected by the reconciliation process in many ways. First, the choice of electoral systems has an impact on the peaceful development of nations. Many assert that the balance of power among the various identity and interest groups is more conducive to harmony in pluralist democracy than in a dual system of power, or than hegemony by a majority. There is no one single electoral system that works for all divided societies, and optimal choice depends upon factors specific to each country. A variety of power-sharing options have been tried in divided societies.56

Power-sharing may often be perceived by the international community as the best option for a certain form of 'political reconciliation' to appear in the aftermath of a violent conflict. In such circumstances, pacted negotiations may be pushed before the results of the polls are announced, or to settle electoral disputes.In other cases, pressure may be put on the organization of elections before essential conditions are met.

This approach has been criticized in part because too much focus is given to the procedures of elections, while there is a tendency to neglect the fabric that makes up a consolidated democratic society. As a result, elections may be prioritized before necessary accompanying conditions have been met. There is an assumption that these will develop as an outcome of elections, however in many situations, the absence of these qualities prior to elections has led either to the immediate or long-term erosion of democratic principles. Past examples have also demonstrated the risk of premature political competition as it may reactivate old logics and lead to the destabilization of the socio-political situation.

All these different scenarios show that different conceptions of what 'political reconciliation' are supposed to impact the organization of elections. Reciprocally, the conditions in which elections are organized can deeply affect the reconciliation process as a whole, including the trust electors will have in the system.

Reconciliation and media

The media is instrumental in the reconciliation process. As such, overseeing mass media to prevent its use to inflame hate is essential.57 Special workshops are organized for journalists to try to diminish inflammatory reporting and promote mutual understanding. In a more constructive way, media, particularly those initiatives oriented toward peace, are actually called to support change in attitudes, helping modify perceptions of 'others,' and facilitate reconciliation between divided groups. To this end, media professionals may be encouraged to give more coverage to peacebuilding efforts, including towards reconciliation and inspirational stories for personal transformation.58 Several civil society organizations-- among them Search for Common Ground-- have developed media programs specially oriented toward supporting those media for peace programs around the world.

Go to Actors and Activities

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Reconciliation, justice, and rule of law

A major dimension of reconciliation is justice in its manifold meanings, including, but not limited to transitional justice mechanisms.

Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRCs) and other transitional justice mechanisms

The advocates of the truth commission approach argue that it is central to the promotion of reconciliation in divided societies.59 Although flawed in many ways, such commissions are perceived as having a better chance than any other conflict handling mechanism of helping stop the cycle of violence and hatred thatsometimes transcends generations.60 Generally speaking, sponsorship of war-crimes trials or truth and reconciliation commissions strives to reconcile the needs for truth, mercy, and justiceall tenets at the heart of the reconciliation process.61

The notion of 'truth' is particularly valued here. As scholar Louis Kriesberg explains "many partisans of a conflict, as well as analysts, regard truth as an important dimension of reconciliation since members of antagonistic sides tend to deny what members of the other side experience and believe to be true."62 In that perspective, the TRC is considered to be "a facilitator that can improve communication and mutual tolerance of diversity,"63 as crimes from the past are revealed.

Of course, this is not without danger in post-conflict environment as one must "take into consideration the society's ability to sustain the pressure and tension of exposing difficult truths without collapsing into renewed violence."64 In that sense, both TRC processes and trials may potentially "set back the process of reconciliation when all parties concerned view themselves as victims."65

Indeed, the link between truth and reconciliation is difficult to prove. One of the few empirical studies that have tested this link is Gibson's South Africa survey from 2004, the results of which "showed that among white South Africans, accepting the truth contributed to reconciliation. The same seemed to be true among Asian and Colored South Africans. However, among black South Africans, truth did not lead to reconciliation." Gibson points out that even though this may be a "disappointing finding... truth does not contribute to irreconciliation either a fear many had when gruesome testimonies were being made."66

Indeed, central to criticism of the truth commission approach is the argument that justice is generally forgotten in the proclaimed quest for truth, and that the alleged reconciliation is false. In this view, the frequent promise of amnesty in exchange for truth is particularly questioned. "To put it at its crudest, the criminals provide a version of the truth in return for amnesty, and the victims are then left to become reconciled to their loss, relinquishing in the process the quest for justice."67 On this basis, some posit that "truth can not be established just through storytelling or the mere usage of words, but has to be accompanied by deeds: punishment of perpetrators, taking care of the plight and needs of the victims, formal agreements between the parties, economic and educational initiatives to change the status quo in asymmetric contexts," 68 as well as some work on the emotional development of confidence and trust.
Go to Reconciliation and trauma healing and Transitional Justice

Reconciliation, reform of the judicial system, and human rights

From a human rights perspective, reconciliation is also seen as a process that can only be achieved by regulating social interaction through the rule of law and preventing certain forms of violations of rights from happening again. "To promote reconciliation through this ideology one has to condemn inappropriate behaviour, irrespective of who is responsible, and discourage people from repeating these offences through setting up appropriate institutional and social safeguards."69 A Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) can contribute to build a human rights culture through bringing atrocities to public awareness and making recommendations regarding the prevention of future abuses.70 This is actually a part of a TRC's mandate which is less known but equally important.

However, other mechanisms need to be put in place. In the course of the debates around constitutions, the development of a Bill of Rights, in particular, is a useful instrument whereby the state and its citizens agree on the rights of each individual.71 Human rights activists also play an important role here, lobbying for legislature and acting as watchdogs, monitoring the level of compliance with standards of human rights and alerting the nation to violations.72 Whereas their action may sometimes be perceived as a dissonance in the reconciliation discourse because of their vocal critiques, they actually contribute directly to the building of a system each citizen can trust. Reform of the justice system as a whole is also essential to restore trust in state institutions. These elements are all essential for a reconciliation process to takes place.

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Reconciliation and security

Reconciliation and the creation of a sense of safety for all citizens

To come to reconcile, citizens need to feel safe, no longer threatened or intimidated by 'others' or even by the State. Security sectors reforms, including in the way they affect citizens' daily lives, are crucial to re-establish that sense of safety. Indeed, "security sector reform is not only limited to changing institutions, ensuring oversight and accountability mechanisms and creating non-corrupt efficient management structures. It is also about ensuring that civil society trusts the new security sector mechanisms, whether they be the police services, military forces, intelligence services, judicial systems or oversight mechanisms."73  Go to Community policing

Reconciliation and the reintegration of ex-combatants

The reintegration of ex-combatants into the communities (as part of DDR programs) is rightly considered an important dimension of a reconciliation process. However, such reintegration can conversely present challenges to that same process. For instance, it "may increase the distress of their victims, with negative effects on their personal healing or local reconciliation, but may be vital for the goal of achieving societal reconciliation by removing a potential threat to peace."74 Therefore, while the focus during demobilization has often been on the individuals being demobilized, an emphasis is increasingly put on the community preparation and participation. Such preparation of receiving communities is an integral part of reconciliation and supports reintegration efforts.75

Existing assessments of DDR programs generally consider that they have achieved only partial success assisting in reconciling ex-combatants with communities to which they are returning. "Reconciliation remains inherently problematic when ex-combatants have committed atrocities in their own communities and are seen as part of the problem by many civilians."76 Indeed, the reintegration of offenders is a particularly important, if often neglected, tool of reconciliation policies.

In many cases, victims and perpetrators have little choice but to cohabite. Such cohabitation may lead to true reconciliation, as in some regions of Sierra Leone. But such cohabitation plays out very differently from one area to the next. 77 In other cases, "the prolonged physical and social exclusion of offenders may drive them into social and political isolation, ultimately creating subcultures and networks hostile to peace, democracy and human rights."78 The re-integration of former child soldiers and former abductees also pose specific challenges from a reconciliation perspective. However, reconciliation has not necessarily been seen as a DDR program priority.

Actually, among the rare true 'success stories' of reintegration and reconciliation are those occasions where the communities themselves utilize local resources in order to reinterpret traditions and rituals of reconciliation, forgiveness, and healing, and where these groups take the initiative and to support the healing and reintegration of former combatants, in particular former child soldiers. These communities generally approach return as a process not just of reintegration into the community, but as further reconciliation between families, clans and sub-clans which are integrally tied up in the reintegration and reconciliation process.79
Go to Case studies: Mozambique: Community reintegration of child soldiers and traditional ritualsUganda: mato oput ceremonies  and Empowerment of underrepresented groups: Children and Youth

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Reconciliation and economic recovery

Reconciliation and reintegration of refugees and displaced persons

Reconciliation is an important component of creating the conditions to facilitate the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) links reconciliation to "the progressive reduction of political and social violence, as well as the establishment of effective and equitable judicial procedures and the rule of law,"80 perceived as important conditions for return. At the community level, the reconciliation process is thought of as a way to "promote measures to improve relations and coexistence between returnees and their communities through equitable access to services and programs."81 UNHCR also collaborates with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like Search for Common Ground to help prepare and support the people returning as well as the communities and prevent conflicts.82 Reconciliation is truly approached here both as conflict transformation and community building.  Go to Community reintegration

Reconciliation requires confronting economic injustices in the society

Reconciliation requires physical safety and economic and social justice. It requires "not only bringing people together to create a shared understanding, but to succeed, much more. It requires an unflinching confrontation with the underlying, chronic injustices faced by a society and the mobilization of its institutions to address these issues in ways that are distributively and procedurally just, and genuinely inclusive."83 People first need to have their immediate physical needs sufficiently met to be able to be open enough to the reconciliation process.84 When individuals are reduced to an immediate survival, engaging in complex reconciliation processes may be even more difficult. Once basic needs are met, reconciliation, at the macro level, "requires the credibility that can be established only by implementation of social and economic programs that concretely address the substantive injustices."85 Fiscal and employment issues are central to that respect, as are the budgetary choices to be made by the State.

Go to Community reintegration ; Employment; Public sector; Economic strategies

1. Judy Barsalou, "Trauma and Transitional Justice in Divided Societies" (Washington DC: US Institute of Peace, 2005), 2.
2. Eric Brahm, "Peacebuilding and Reconciliation Stage," in Beyond Intractability, eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess (Boulder, CO: Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder, October 2003).
3. Luc Huyse, "Theory and Practice," in Reconciliation : Rhetoric or Relevant? eds. Grainne Kelly and Brandon Hamber (Belfast : Democratic Dialogue, February 2005), 10.
4. John Paul Lederach, "Conflict Transformation in Protracted Internal Conflicts: The Case for a Comprehensive Framework," in Conflict Transformation, ed. Kumar Rupesinghe (New York: St. Martins Press/ Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1995), 201-222; John Paul Lederach, The Little Book of Conflict Transformation (Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2005).
5. Reina Neufeldt, Larissa Fast, Fr Robert Schreiter, Fr Brian Starken, Duncan MacLaren, Jaco Cilliers, and John Paul Lederach, Peacebuilding: A Training Manual. (Vatican City: Caritas Internationalis, 2002), 14; Hizkias Assefa, "The Meaning of Reconciliation," European Platform for Conflict Resolution and Transformation.
6. John Paul Lederach, Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies (Washington, DC: U.S. Institute of Peace, 1997), 75.
7. "Our Core Principles," Search for Common Ground.
8. Ibid.
9. James Notter, "Trust and Conflict Transformation," Occasional Paper Number 5, Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (April 1995), 10.
10. Karen Brouneus, "Reconciliation and Development," Study Prepared for Workshop 8-- 'Reconciliation,' International Conference, Building a Future on Peace and Justice, Nuremberg, 25-27 June 2007, 12.
11. Batrice Pouligny, "Building Peace in Situations of Post-Mass Crimes," in International Peacekeeping 9, no. 2 (Summer 2002), 201-20.
12. Ervin Staub, Laurie Ann Pearlman, Alexandra Gubin, and Athanase Hagengimana, "Healing, Reconciliation, Forgiving, and the Prevention of Violence after Genocide or Mass Killing: An Intervention and its Experimental Evaluation in Rwanda," in Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 24, No. 3 (2005): 297-334, 302.
13. Vern Neufeld Redekop, "A Post-Genocidal Justice of Blessing as an Alternative to a Justice of Violence: The Case of Rwanda," in Peacebuilding in Traumatized Societies, ed. Barry Hart (Maryland: University Press of America, 2008), 213-216.
14. Staub, et al., "Psychological Recovery, Reconciliation and the Prevention of New Violence: An Approach and Its Uses in Rwanda," in Peacebuilding in Traumatized Societies, Barry Hart, ed. (Maryland: University Press of America, 2008), 134.
15. Joseph V. Montville, "The Healing Function in Conflict Resolution," in Conflict Resolution Theory and Practice: Integration and Application, eds. Dennis J. D. Sandole and Hugo van der Merwe (Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 1993).
16. Staub, et al., "Healing, Reconciliation, Forgiving, and the Prevention of Violence after Genocide or Mass Killing: An Intervention and its Experimental Evaluation in Rwanda," 297-334, 302.
17. Staub, et al., "Psychological Recovery, Reconciliation and the Prevention of New Violence: An Approach and Its Uses in Rwanda," 134.
18. Barsalou, "Trauma and Transitional Justice in Divided Societies," 5; Susan Dwyer, Reconciliation for Realists, Ethics and International Affairs 13 (1999), 96; Luc Huyse, "The Process of Reconciliation," in Reconciliation after Violent Conflict, eds. David Bloomfield, Teresa Barnes and Luc Huyse (Stockholm: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), 2005), 9.
19. Batrice Pouligny, Bernard Doray and Jean-Clment Martin, "Methodological and ethical problems: A trans-disciplinary approach," in After Mass Crimes: Rebuilding States and Communities, eds. Beatrice Pouligny, Simon Chesterman, and Albrecht Schnabel (Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2007), 32.
20. See for instance Assefa, "The Meaning of Reconciliation."
21. Staub, et al., "Psychological Recovery, Reconciliation and the Prevention of New Violence: An Approach and Its Uses in Rwanda," 134.
22. Ereshnee Naidu and Cyril Adonis, History on their own Terms: The Relevance of the Past for a New Generation (South Africa: Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, 2007), 29.
23. Laura Hein and Mark Selden, "The Lessons of War, Global Power, and Social Change," in Censoring History, eds. Laura Hein and Mark Selden (Armonk, NY: Sharpe, 2000), 3; Naidu and Adonis, History on their own Terms: The Relevance of the Past for a New Generation, 23.
24. Elizabeth A. Cole," Introduction: Reconciliation and History Education," in Teaching the Violent Past: History Education and Reconciliation, ed. Elizabeth A. Cole (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), 1-2. On the same topic, see also: Teaching for Reconciliation: Can Tolerance Towards Former Enemies Be Taught? Report on an International Faculty Development Seminar held From June 3-5, 2001, in Lublin, Poland, sponsored by the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, Jagiellonian University, and Brama Grodzka (June 20, 2001).
25. Kenneth D. Bush and Diane Saltarelli, The Two Faces of Ethnic Conflict: Towards a Peacebuilding Education for Children (Florence, Italy: UNICEF Innocenti Research Center, 2000), 22.

26. Cole, "Introduction: Reconciliation and History Education," 25.

27. Ibid, 28.
28. Ibid, 18.
29. Barsalou, "Trauma and Transitional Justice in Divided Societies," 7.
30. Judy Barsalou and Victoria Baxter, "The Urge to Remember: The Role of Memorials in Social Reconstruction and Transitional Justice," US Institute of Peace Stabilization and Reconstruction Series No. 5 (January 2007), 4.
31. Sarah Topol, "Whats Being Done on...Memory Projects?" World Movement for Democracy (2006).
32. Andrew Rigby, "Dealing with the Past: Forgiveness and the Reconstruction of Memory in Divided Societies," in Ethical Theory in the Study of International Politics ed. Mark Evans (New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2004), 106.
33. See also Vern Neufeld Redekop, "Teachings of Blessing as an Element of Reconciliation: Intra and Inter-Religious Hermeneutical Challenges and Opportunities," in The Next Step in Studying Religion: A Graduates Guide, ed. Matthieu E. Courville (London: The Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002).
34. David Smock, "Faith-Based NGOs and International Peacebuilding" (Washington DC: US Institute of Peace, October 2001).
35. Cynthia Sampson, "Religion and Peacebuilding," in Peacemaking in International Conflict: Methods and Techniques, eds. I. William Zartman and J. Lewis Rasmussen, (Washington DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1997), 273-316.
36. Ibid, 284.
37. "Reconciliation Lessons Learned from United Nations Peacekeeping Missions: Case Studies-- Sierra Leone and Timor L'este." (Sweden: International IDEA, November 2004), 17-18.
38. Bridget Moix, "Faith and Conflict," Foreign Policy in Focus (October 4, 2007).
39. Judy Barsalou, "Managing Memory: Looking to Transitional Justice to Address Trauma," in Peacebuilding in Traumatized Societies, ed. Barry Hart (Maryland: University Press of America, 2008), 31-32.
40. Andrew Schapp, Political Reconciliation (New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2005), 9.
41. Roberta Culbertson and Batrice Pouligny, "Re-imagining Peace after Mass Crime: A Dialogical Exchange between Insider and Outsider Knowledge," in After Mass Crime: Rebuilding States and Communities, eds. Beatrice Pouligny, et al. (Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2007), 272-273.
42. Peter Uvin, Life after Violence: A Peoples History of Burundi (London: Zed Books, 2008), 166-167.
43. Sue Unsworth and Peter Uvin. A New Look at Civil Society Support in Rwanda? (Draft, Oct. 7, 2002).
44. Alexander L Boraine, "Transitional Justice: A Holistic Interpretation," in Journal of International Affairs 60, no. 1 (October 1, 2006), 22-23.
45. "Reconciliation," International Center for Transitional Justice, February 2006.
46. Daniel Bar-On, "Reconciliation Revisited - Part III: The Concept of Reconciliation Revisited, the Testing Parameters," Newropeans Magazine, March 15, 2006.
47. On reconciliation as 'civic trust,' see Pablo de Grieff, "The Role of Apologies in National Reconciliation Processes: On Making Trustworthy Institutions Trusted," in The Age of Apology, eds. Mark Gibney and Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).
48. Michele Brandt, "Constitutional Assistance in Post-Conflict Countries: The UN Experience: Cambodia, East Timor & Afghanistan." (New York: United Nations Development Programme, 2005), 1.
49. Isabella Jean with Jessica Berns, "Complementary Approaches to Coexistence Work: Focus on Coexistence and Democracy-Building" in Coexistence International (July 2007), 4-6.
50. Ibid, 2.
51. Ibid.
52. Ibid, 4-6.

53. Cole, "Introduction: Reconciliation and History Education," 31.

54. Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson, "The Moral Foundations of Truth Commission," in Truth vs. Justice: The Morality of Truth Commissions, eds. Robert I. Rotberg and Dennis Thompson (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 22-23. See also Mark R Amstutz, "Is Reconciliation Possible after Genocide? The Case of Rwanda." Journal of Church and State 48, no. 3 (July 1, 2006): 541-565 and Mark Amstutz, The Healing of Nations: The Promise and Limits of Political Forgiveness (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), 104-05.
55. James L Gibson, "The Contributions of Truth to Reconciliation: Lessons from South Africa," The Journal of Conflict Resolution 50, no. 3 (June 1, 2006): 409-432.
56. Jean and Berns, "Complementary Approaches to Coexistence Work: Focus on Coexistence and Democracy-Building," 4-6.
57. David Last, "From Peacekeeping to Peacebuilding," The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution 5, no. 1 (Summer 2003).
58. Yehezkel Landau. Healing the Holy Land: Interreligious Peacebuilding in Israel/Palestine. (Washington DC: US Institute of Peace, August 2003).
59. Rigby, "Dealing with the Past: Forgiveness and the Reconstruction of Memory in Divided Societies," 117-118.
60. Assefa, "The Meaning of Reconciliation."
61. Last, "From Peacekeeping to Peacebuilding."
62. Louis Kriesberg, "External contributions to post-mass-crime rehabilitation," in After Mass Crimes Rebuilding States and Communities, eds. Beatrice Poulgny, Simon Chesterman and Albrecht Schnabel (Tokyo: United Nations University Press), 243-270, 252.
63. Brandon Hamber and Hugo van der Merwe, "What is this Thing Called Reconciliation?" Reconciliation in Review 1, no. 1 (1998).
64. Brouneus, "Reconciliation and Development," 8.
65. Barsalou, "Trauma and Transitional Justice in Divided Societies," 7.
66. Brouneus, "Reconciliation and Development," 7.
67. Rigby, "Dealing with the Past: Forgiveness and the Reconstruction of Memory in Divided Societies," 117-118.
68. Bar-On, "Reconciliation Revisited - Part III: The Concept of Reconciliation Revisited, the Testing Parameters."
69. Hamber and van der Merwe, "What is this Thing Called Reconciliation?"
70. Ibid
71. Jean with Berns, "Complementary Approaches to Coexistence Work: Focus on Coexistence and Democracy-Building," 4-6.
72. Holly Ackerman, "National Reconciliation in the Case of Cuba: Definition and Analysis," paper, Ninth Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE), Coral Gables, Florida, August 12-14, 1999, 342-343.
73. Eirin Mobekk, "Transitional Justice and Security Sector Reform: Enabling Sustainable Peace," Occasional Paper no. 13 (Geneva: Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), November 2006), 18; Jean with Berns, "Complementary Approaches to Coexistence Work: Focus on Coexistence and Democracy-Building," 4-6.
74. Ann-Sofi Jakobsson Hatay, "Peacebuilding and Reconciliation in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia 1995-2004," (Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala University Department of Peace and Conflict Research, 2005), 61.
75. Colin Gleichmann, Michael Odenwald, Kees Steenken, and Adrian Wilkinson, Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration A Practical Field and Classroom Guide. (Germany, Druckerei Hassmller Graphische Betriebe GmbH & Co. KG, 2004), 59.
76. Jeremy Ginifer, Mike Bourne and Owen Greene, "Considering Armed Violence in the Post-Conflict Transition : DDR and Small Arms and Light Weapons Reductions," (Bradford, UK: Centre for International Cooperation and Security, September 2004), 6.
77. "Reconciliation Lessons Learned from United Nations Peacekeeping Missions: Case Studies-- Sierra Leone and Timor L'este," 11.
78. Huyse, "Theory and Practice," 10.
79. See for instance in the case of Northern Uganda: Aki Stavrou and Angela Veale, "Violence, Reconciliation and Identity the Reintegration of Lords Resistance Army Child Abductees in Northern Uganda" (Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies, 2003).
80. UNHCR, "Policy Framework and Implementation Strategy: UNHCRs Role in Support of the Return and Reintegration of Displaced Populations" (Geneva: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, February 18, 2008), 4.
81. Ibid.

82. Elizabeth Ferris, "The Role of Civil Society in Ending Displacement and Peacebuilding," UN Peacebuilding Commission, Lessons Learned Working Group Paper (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, March 2008).

83. Susan Opotow, "Reconciliation in Times of Impunity : Challenges for Social Justice," in Social Justice Research 14, no. 2 (June 2001) : 149-170, 167.
84. Redekop, "A Post-Genocidal Justice of Blessing as an Alternative to a Justice of Violence: The Case of Rwanda," in Peacebuilding in Traumatized Societies, ed. Barry Hart (Maryland: University Press of America, 2008), 213-216.
85. Dwyer, "Reconciliation for Realists," 95.

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