Even after a settlement is reached and a peace agreement is signed, it is by no means the end of the conflict. For a conflict to really end, healing the minds and the bodies of the victims of wars is necessary. Indeed it is the necessary first step to reconciliation to appear and people who have suffered the war need to reconcile in order to prevent the last war to be the cause of the next. Indeed as Whittaker's explains "reconciliation goes beyond resolution to refer not just to the psychological process whereby understanding and tolerance lead to readiness to live together in a new framework of peace and well- being"
As one might expect, there are big differences in how various societies have attempted to tackle the problem of 'dealing with the past'. Two categories of solutions can be found: internal reconciliation, such as in Chile and South Africa in 1990's and external reconciliation through the increased use of legal redress in external war crimes tribunal, such as for the former Yugoslavia.
[...] Indeed the search for truth was highlighted while the Truth and reconciliation commission in South Africa after the end of Apartheid. In that country, it was set up in terms of the Promotion of National Unity and reconciliation. On the contrary, externally imposed tribunal has a completely different perspective and emerged within the international community. Its use of International Criminal Tribunal has often been termed retribution. Since the end of the Second World War, and the adoption of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the addition of two Protocols in 1977, as well as the adoption of a Convention on Genocide in 1948, the International Community has shown its commitment to end the culture of impunity. [...]
[...] That helps drive away the demons of vengeance or private justice Healing the minds and the bodies of the victims of wars is a complicated notion. As it is, in fact, a personal process. However its aim is always the same, reconciliation and coexistence. Reconciliation is, in fact, not necessarily the end point of every conflict; some may end before complete reconciliation takes place. But all intractable conflicts that really do end must go through some peace building or reconciliation process if the parties are going to have to interact together again in the future. [...]
[...] For healing the minds and bodies of the victims of wars and for reconciliation to take root in political morals, there is a need for truth, but the truth commissions are not the best way to heal the minds and bodies of victims of war. Forgiveness and search for truth are meant to defuse tensions, rather than to seek miracle solutions that would really heal the minds and the bodies of the victims of wars. While the TRC amnesty-for- truth process merits respect as the most honestly designed transitional arrangement short of “real justice” (i.e. [...]
[...] So there are no perfect solutions to heal the minds and bodies of victims of war. Indeed burying the past in a reconciliatory way requires the mobilization of a variety of techniques Restorative justice, if adequately organized, can heal the wounds of both victim and perpetrator. Telling the truth also can have a healing effect on the victim and the offender and “revealing is healing” was the slogan of the South African TRC. In addition, the acknowledgement of what happened is a way of breaking the vicious circle of impunity: silence and amnesia are the enemies of justice. [...]
[...] However, it is difficult to define forgiveness and it is sometimes nearly impossible for people to countenance it if they have directly suffered the loss of a relative or a close friend. Forgiveness has been described as a quality by which one ceases to feel resentment against another for a wrong he or she has committed against oneself. Forgiveness can be granted with or without the other asking for forgiveness. Forgiveness is deeply embedded in the religious and moral discourses of peace as Christianity is full of symbols of reconciliation such as “turn the other cheek”. [...]
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