Reconciliation(s): Transitional Justice in Postconflict Societies

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Reconciliation(s) considers the definition of the concept of reconciliation itself, focusing on the definitional dialogue that arises from the attempts to situate reconciliation within a theoretical and analytical framework. Contributing authors champion competing definitions, but all agree that it plays an important role in building relationships of trust and cohesion. The essays in this book also consider the nature and utility of reconciliation in a number of contexts, evaluating both its function and efficacy.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7673-5
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acronyms
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    In recent years, scholars and practitioners alike have begun to concentrate their attention on the transformation of conflict and postconflict societies. Significantly, one area of focus is what has come to be known as “transitional justice,” which is defined as the process by which societies move either from war to peace or from a repressive/authoritarian regime to democracy while dealing with resulting questions of justice and what to do with social, political, and economic institutions.¹

    Although the field of transitional justice has only been recognized for ten years or so, already certain efforts to bring about transitional justice are seen...

    • 2 Forgiveness as Righteousness
      (pp. 17-25)

      There are wrongs that can be repaired. The idea is not to diminish any wrong that a person suffers; rather, it is to draw attention to the important truth that not all wrongs constitute irreparable damage. Of course, it is not uncommon nowadays for people to use the term “violated” to refer to all sorts of wrongs. Thus, people even claim to have been violated simply on account of someone’s having lied to them. This way of talking raises the pitch, if you will, of the moral rhetoric; for a term that was once used in a very special context...

    • 3 Towards the Healing of History: an Exploration of the Relationship Between Pardon and Peace¹
      (pp. 26-35)

      We all know with our minds that “the only way to peace is through the door of justice,”² but to make it work is something else. We are, for the most convincing reasons, inclined to avoid engagement with the risky business of peacemaking. We find political, social, and sometimes theological excuses for this strategy, and we justify it by speaking of our mature consideration, prudence, reasonable caution, or even wisdom.

      We lament the lack of a prophetic stance by political and religious leaders, but we do not create the conditions that would enable them to take such a lead, because...

    • 4 A Dialectic of Acknowledgment
      (pp. 36-50)

      In contexts of reconciliation, it is extremely common to speak of acknowledgment and to emphasize its importance for reconciliation. In these instances, what is usually at stake is the acknowledgment of wrongs committed by some persons and groups against others. Acknowledgment of such wrongs is regarded as pivotal in reconciliation and as constituting a necessary first step towards dealing with the past and achieving something like sustainable peace.¹

      Typically, calls for acknowledgment in these contexts do not pause to explain what acknowledgment amounts to or even to define the term. Nor do they include explanations of just why acknowledgment is...

    • 5 Transitional Justice in Morocco: Lifting the Veil on a Hidden Face
      (pp. 53-85)

      Morocco has long enjoyed a reputation as a moderate “bridge” state capable of linking disparate regions and balancing international political tensions. Former King Hassan II embodied this quality in his ruling style. Yet behind his well-groomed reputation as a modern international ambassador, there was a hidden face. A skilled middleman, the king possessed a unique capacity for appearing to move towards democracy and human rights while, “when necessary,” quietly ruling with an iron fist behind the scenes.³ From 1956 to the early 1990s, Moroccans experienced an era of fierce repression that saw the monarchy’s power consolidated under a vast and...

    • 6 Traditional Justice and Legal Pluralism in Transitional Context: The Case of Rwanda’s Gacaca Courts
      (pp. 86-115)

      Even as post-conflict justice and accountability become increasingly standardized, one of the key lessons coming out of international involvement is, as the un secretary-general acknowledges, the “need to eschew one-size-fits-all formulas and the importation of foreign models.”¹ Research from South Africa, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, and Rwanda, among other countries, has shown that internationalized conceptions of truth, justice, and reconciliation may differ quite significantly from local means of dealing with the past through revenge or forgetting.² We have also seen an increasing turn towards traditional mechanisms of justice and reconciliation that are based on customary law. This includes the incorporation of...

    • 7 Truth and the Challenge of Reconciliation in Guatemala
      (pp. 116-146)

      The Guatemalan economic elite and military offer their recipe for how to deal with the country’s wartime past. Sitting in offices in Guatemala City, they advocate forgiving, forgetting, and focusing instead on the pressing challenges of peace: democracy and development. “If we keep looking back there will be no future. We need to wipe the slate clean, and sit down together as Guatemalans to figure out how we can move forward,” one landowner explains.¹ A former minister of defence adds, “we need to forgive so that we can work together. Unless you forgive there can be no reconciliation. You’ll always...

    • 8 Contact and Culture: Mechanisms of Reconciliation in Schools in Northern Ireland and Israel
      (pp. 147-173)

      Mixed religion/cultural schools in Northern Ireland and Israel were first established in the 1980s to address the problems of poor intergroup relations in both jurisdictions. Underpinned by ideas associated with the “contact hypothesis,” the schools were explicitly designed to welcome groups from diverse cultural and religious traditions with the intention of instilling greater communal tolerance and respect. While they have generally attracted much positive publicity, the qualitative processes through which the schools seek to improve relations have not been widely discussed, and questions remain as to the contribution that they can make to generating intergroup reconciliation.

      Focusing on the processes...

    • 9 What of Reconciliation? Traditional Mechanisms of Acknowledegment in Uganda
      (pp. 174-206)

      In any context of social and political transition after a period of mass atrocity, the steps a society takes to deal with the aftermath of such abuses are important. As distinct from the physical infrastructure, including the rebuilding of roads, schools, and hospitals, for example, the psycho-social and socio-political needs of those within the society are paramount. The social infrastructure, which might include the justice system, civil society, and participation in the political system, for example, is often also in disrepair. In most cases, the finite financial resources of the society enable it to tackle either the physical or the...

    • 10 A Survey of Reconciliation Processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina: the Gap Between People and Politics
      (pp. 207-231)

      More than ten years after the signing of the peace agreement that ended the three-and-one-half-year war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), this timespan provides an opportunity for reflection on the peace and state-building processes initiated in the first years of postwar reconstruction and on the work still needed in the future. Considering the extent of destruction in the country (half the population of 4 million people displaced, over 100,000 people killed, massive physical damage, near economic collapse) in the wake of the wars of Yugoslav succession, a great deal has been accomplished in that time. Property was returned to prewar...

    • 11l Tensions Between Human Rights and the Politics of Reconciliation: a South African Case Study
      (pp. 232-262)

      Transitional justice seeks to manage a complex and delicate relationship betweensensitive, yet essentiallypublicconcerns. This balancing act in the heart of the transitional justice agenda has been described differently: as the accommodation of justiceandpeace, of human rightsandreconciliation, of victims’ rightsandperpetrator demands or of legal processesandextrajudicial truth-seeking mechanisms. Times of transition therefore demand fine judgment, but also, given the public nature of the task, a shrewd communication strategy. Political parties as well as civic groups in transitional societies are ceased by this agenda for years beyond the actual transfer of power....

    • 12 Interethnic Reconciliation in Lebanon: After the Civil War
      (pp. 263-285)

      Lebanon has always been a unique country in the Middle East, not only because its geographical location allowed it to become the gate between the West and the East but also because of its ethnic mosaic. Its ethnic composition has varied from one period to another, but today it is estimated that 70 percent of the Lebanese are Muslims, including Shiites, Sunnis, Druze, Isma’ilites, Alawites, and Nusayri and that 30 percent are Christians, including Maronites, Protestants, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Armenian Catholic, and Armenian Orthodox among others.¹ What made Lebanon politically unique, after the country’s declaration of independence in 1943,...

    • 13 Beyond Coexistence: Towards a Working Definition of Reconciliation
      (pp. 286-310)

      Reconciliation has multiple meanings, which can vary from context to context. There is also often confusion relating to the application of the term to the relationship between two individuals and to a broader political context of conflict involving groups. At the same time, a detailed yet universal understanding of what reconciliation means is not available. This has prompted the comment that it is “as old as the hills and at the same time in a preinfancy stage.”² In the last two decades, however, the term has become increasingly used in the political arena. It has moved from the seminary and...

  8. Index
    (pp. 311-313)