Almost one hundred years ago to the day, the armistice ended the First World War. What have we learned from those disastrous years, and what should we reflect on this 11 November? Our newest report, produced together with our partner Interpeace and support of the Government of Finland and the Robert Bosch Stiftung, argues that reconciliation requires a tailor-made approach and lasting attention from all segments of society: if we invested a fragment of what is spent in war on reconciliation, lasting peace might well be enjoyed by many more citizens around the world.
Reconciliation is more important today than ever
The world is, once more, becoming a more violent place. The number of conflicts raging around the world is higher today than it was ten years ago. However, most of these are internal armed conflicts. The nature of these conflicts means, therefore, that solutions must be based on reconciliation efforts which address the deep-rooted causes of conflict within a society. Peace agreements built on flimsy foundations are unlikely to last.
A powerful desire for an end to violence is not enough
For the general public, the term ‘reconciliation’ is often associated simply with the end of violence. In practice, formally ending a conflict is just the beginning of a long and complex process. Rebuilding relationships damaged by violent conflict, not only between groups in society but also between people and their institutions; uncovering the truth; fighting impunity; banishing corruption; and building a well-functioning state and democratic processes – this all is part of reconciliation, and more often than not, it fails in the long term.
Mind the gap: great visions must be matched by action
Peace accords are usually accompanied by powerful words and grand, hopeful visions of the future. In many cases only a few of these elements come to life. Unrealistic expectations often lead to popular disillusionment, which can generate a lack of support for the reconciliation agenda over time to the detriment of peace. If peace is defined as moving beyond the cessation of violence and toward transformed relationships of trust, many countries fall short. The momentum of public desire for peace needs to be transformed into a strong and sustained commitment to policies and initiatives that will nurture a true ‘reconciled society’.
Learn more about these and other findings from our latest report, Challenging the Conventional: Making Post-Violence Reconciliation Succeed. Download the full report here!