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Reconciliation and restorative justice in post-conflict societies

Aim and Objectives

The overall aim of the project is to determine whether post-conflict reconciliation processes can be facilitated through policy-making. The primary question this project seeks to answer is why some post-conflict reconciliation processes work while others do not. One of the key objectives of the project is thus to identify some of the parameters, variables, and characteristics that lead respectively to success or failure.  

Background

Countries experiencing post-conflict trauma are often driven by outside forces to seek reconciliation through internationally brokered transitional justice approaches and policies that are sometimes inappropriate with regards to the intercultural nature of the community. Often such policies are based on assumptions about closure, harmony and consensus, and, as a result, they may lead to protracted divisions rather than unity. At the same time that post-conflict communities experience a need to find shared visions for the future based on inter-dependence and positive relationships, they are also asked to deal both with issues of guilt and with socio-economic and political changes of insurmountable proportions. The ‘logic of reconciliation’ in externally imposed policies is therefore not always addressing the pressing needs of post-conflict societies. In this respect, the restorative justice approach, through its involvement of all stakeholders in the reconciliation process and its focus on the needs of both victims and offenders, as well as of the community at large, might represent a step forward from transitional justice practices that focused almost exclusively on punishment and compensation. The resulting intensified dialogue ensuing as a result of the restorative justice approach could thus be beneficial for building social capital in deeply divided, post-conflict societies.

Action Setup and Outcomes

Through a comparative study, the project will seek to assess the positive and negative impact of existing reconciliation processes in a number of case studies. The focus will be placed on the ongoing reconciliation processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Transnistria, and Northern Ireland, but also taking into account examples of historical conflicts and post-conflict reconstruction strategies. Following a first selection of case studies, the project will proceed with the development of indicators, considered in both their qualitative and quantitative dimensions, to assess the impacts of existing reconciliation processes. The identification of eventual gaps and potential examples of good practices resulting from such research should then be functional in extrapolating the useful lessons learned for the design and implementation of coherent reconciliation strategies.

Activities

 

  • ECMI Summer School “Alternative Approaches to Reconciliation” (2014)
  • Workshop on Reconciliation and Restorative Justice in Post-Conflict Societies (2015)
  • Toolkit for practitioners; ECMI Working Papers

Partner Institutions

KU Leuven (Belgium), University of Cambridge (UK), University of Flensburg (Germany)

Timeframe

2014-2016

Contact

Dr. Raul Cârstocea

ECMI founders:

The German Federal GovernmentThe German
Federal Government
The Danish GovernmentThe Danish
Government
The Federal State Schleswig-HolsteinThe Federal State
Schleswig-Holstein