The Importance of Post-Conflict Reconciliation

A shell explodes in the Syrian city of Kobane. Credits to Jordi Bernabeu Farrús (2014)

Written by Alfred Spencer

The post-conflict reconciliation process is an aspect of war that is often not considered. Countries have plans for before a war begins and during the war but there is very rarely any effort put into the reconciliation process afterwards. In some cases, this can lead to more problems in the future. If we want to see lasting peace we need to focus on what is done after a war just as much as we focus on what is done before and during a war.

The post-conflict reconciliation process is a complex process that can be derailed by the slightest set back. The first step is acknowledgement. During a war atrocious acts can be committed, and this can impact the reconciliation process. A countries leader may not want to acknowledge that an event took place to avoid having to take responsibility for what happened. Turkey is an example of this. To this day Turkey refuses to acknowledge that the Armenian Genocide happened and as a result the countries have not been able to establish diplomatic relations. If a country does not acknowledge that an atrocity took place there won’t be justice and those responsible won’t be held accountable. This alone can impact the reconciliation process in a negative way.

The second step is to focus on the community that has been affected by the war. This step can be challenging, and it could take years for communities to recover. This will prove to be a challenge in Syria now that there is an end in sight for the civil war. With 5.6 million people considered refuges and 6.6 million people internally displaced it will be hard to help communities recover. The Asad government will also have to deal with the militias in the country and the terrorist threat. By helping communities rebuild and heal the government can lower people’s chances of turning to radical groups within the country.

After the Syrian Civil War is over there will be a lot of focus on the issues of reconciliation and reconstruction. The government can either choose to ignore the events of the war and risk resentment growing in the country once again or they can choose to address the events and work through the issues to ensure peace. The post-conflict reconciliation process is an aspect of war that needs to be addressed. If there is to be lasting peace there needs to be a process that can help us get there.

About the author: Alfred Spencer is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs with a minor in International Law at Vesalius College in Brussels, Belgium.

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