Reconciliation: Resources

Key Resources

On Good Terms: Clarifying Reconciliation

Reconciliation and justice are not oppositional. Rather, justice is a core – perhaps, even the core – dimension of reconciliation, along with truth-seeking, healing, reparations and development.

Berghof Research Centre for Constructive Conflict Management, 2006.

Symbolic Closure through Memory, Reparation and Revenge in Post-conflict Societies

Increasingly, claims are made that truth commissions have beneficial psychological consequences; that is, that they facilitate 'catharsis', or 'heal the nation', or allow the nation to 'work through' a violent past. This article draws upon trauma counselling experience and anthropological fieldwork among survivors to challenge these claims in the context of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It argues that nations are not like individuals in that they do not have collective psyches, that nation-building discourses on reconciliation often subordinate individual needs, and that truth commissions and individual processes of healing work on different time lines.

Brandon Hamber & Richard Wilson, Human Rights Institute, 2002. An insightful and well researched article that challenges some of the claims made for national reconciliation processes.

Rethinking Truth and Reconciliation: Lessons from Sierra Leone

‘Ideas concerning the conciliatory and therapeutic efficacy of truth telling are the product of a Western culture of memory deriving from North American and European historical processes. Nations, however, do not have psyches that can be healed. Nor can it be assumed that truth telling is healing on a personal level: truth commissions do not constitute therapy.’

United States Institute of Peace (USIP),  2005. Interesting reflections on the impact of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Sierra Leone. USIP also run a digital collection of publications on other Truth Commissions.

Further reading

A World With Walls

Academy for Cultural Diplomacy. 2010. Resource portal on peacebuilding and reconciliation for a 2010 conference.

Engaging with the Arts to Promote Coexistence

Cynthia Cohen, Brandeis University, 2003. How the arts can promote coexistence and reconciliation. Cynthia Cohen has another paper on reconciliation and the arts here.

Reconciliation After Violent Conflict: A Handbook

International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), 2003. Lengthy (178 pages) handbook on reconciliation, written in an accessible style.

Justice and Reconciliation: Two Contexts, Two Reflections

Augusto Castro and Augustinho de Vasconcelos, Augustinho, 2008. Reflections on reconciliation and justice from Peru and East Timor.

Trauma and Transitional Justice in Divided Societies

United States Institute of Peace (USIP), 2005.  Short overview focused on countries ‘transitioning’ from stages of violence.

What Is this Thing Called Reconciliation?

Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, 1998. Interesting discussion on the range of interpretations of reconciliation in the South African context.

A Working Definition of Reconciliation

Brandon Hamber and Gráinne Kelly, 2004. Useful attempt to define what ‘reconciliation’ actually means.

Post-Conflict Peacebuilding: Meeting Human Needs for Justice and Reconciliation

Wendy Lambourne, 2004. Academic paper that fits reconciliation into wider peacebuilding processes.

Peacebuilding through Reconciliation

Charles Lerche, 2000. Short article that critiques some reconciliation approaches.

Reconciliation and Peacebuilding Processes

Peacebuilding Initiative. User-friendly introduction to reconciliation, with useful further links.

Organisations and institutions

Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR)

South African organisation working on human rights in reconciliation in Africa.

International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ)

International NGO focused on transitional justice.


Post-Conflict Reconciliation in Colombia

Desmond Tutu on truth and reconciliation

Reconciliation in Northern Ireland