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Reconciliation and peacebuilding
The 2011 World Development Report estimates that 1.5 billion people live in ‘conflict affected’ countries. What are the multiple forms of insecurity that make a country ‘conflict affected’? How can populations – groups and individuals – improve their condition? openSecurity has largely focused on conflict as a violent phenomenon between and within states, and particularly on the relationship between states and citizens.
While conflict itself is inevitable, even creative and desirable, the desire to be secure drives much of human innovation, scientific or social. But militarization is only one response to perceived threat or insecurity. In this section, we now want to examine systematically the other ways.
‘Peacebuilding’ articulates a sprawl of activities, from government and international interventions to highly localised and informal practices. Political negotiations to end a war, the deployment of peacekeepers to maintain a ceasefire, truth telling commissions and memorials, arts and cultural practices that reach across sectarian boundaries – all qualify for inclusion in the Venn diagram.
‘Reconciliation’ is the transformation of conflict. To be reconciled to something – to a position, a state of affairs, perhaps to defeat – suggests passivity, acceptance. To be reconciled with an enemy, individual or group, is an active process of achieving a more productive relationship.
To mark the introduction of reconciliation and peacebuilding into this section as core concepts alongside security, four openSecurity writers explore the relationship between these terms:
Zoe Marriage challenges the dominant security paradigm through the Brazilian dance-fight-game capoeira, showing the relationship between security and development to be far from simple.
Alex de Waal examines the struggle over the peace and security agenda in Africa, contrasting international interventions with African methodologies often sidelined.
Yvette Selim, argues that post-conflict transitional justice is incomplete without addressing the injustices of unequal distribution – of resources, of power, of opportunity.
As Christopher Cramer once wrote, ‘the content of justice is being wrought through social and political conflicts… peace is precisely the problem’. The challenge this poses has implications for our conceptions of development as well as security, justice as well as peace.
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