Dealing with the Past - Exchange and Reflect

The Power of Emotions. Germany 19 | 19

04. Nov. 2019
Ralf Possekel

A German exhibition aims to awaken young people’s interest in history through the power of emotions. The exhibition, which consists of a series of panels, has its own website and videos and is available in seven languages. Who has experience with this approach?

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Anne Frank. Not an exhibition

24. Oct. 2019
[Translate to English:]
Dr. Meron Mendel

The Anne Frank Educational Centre (Frankfurt/Main) opened a learning lab in 2019. How does it work? We talked to Centre Director Dr Meron Mendel

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The Missing Peace: Independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security on the Role of Youth in Transitional Justice

24. Oct. 2019
UN Study

Although there are plenty of arguments for giving youth a key role in Transitional Justice processes, this has seldom happened in practice. As a starting point for further reflection, we bring you an excerpt from the groundbreaking study, published by the UN in 2018, with the key arguments, the examples mentioned and the recommendations concerning Transitional Justice.

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What Would Satisfy Us? - Taking Stock of Critical Approaches to Transitional Justice

24. Oct. 2019
Dustin N. Sharp

Critique of transitional justice has become commonplace – but what should it be measured against? Dustin N. Sharp from San Diego (author of Rethinking Transitional Justice for the Twenty-First Century) would not claim to be a radical critic. In a recent article in the International Journal of Transitional Justice, he gives a clear description of the continuum of possible critiques of transitional justice – without questioning the concept per se. He concludes that, while there is no lack of critical scholarship, there needs to be more engagement with the ‘how to implement’.

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Transitional [Justice] cycle

21. Oct. 2019
Nenad Vukosavljević

It is misleading to rely upon a concept that is rooted in legal practices to build peace or achieve reconciliation since peacebuilding and social reconciliation are much wider and much more complex issues than any legal frame could embrace.

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About this Blog

We collect and collate practical insights, experiences and approaches relating to the challenges of implementing dealing with the past processes in the world as well as in Germany itself, thereby promoting truly universal learning.


Transitional Justice is a professionalised and internationally accepted policy field. But do its implicit and explicit foundations still hold good? Which of its underlying assumptions, patterns of thinking or practices should be critically reviewed?

Dealing with the past is often subject to passionate political struggles - on the national, as well as on the international level. They can lead to rather supportive or suppressive, truly effective or ineffective frameworks, institutionalised by state-policies and laws. However, below the surface, political struggles are about the access to scare resources, institutions or, more generally, the distribution of power. What political initiatives exist that try to foster inclusive and coherent processes of dealing with the past? Why do they exist and what is their room for manoeuvre?


a. Peacebuilding requires the integration of conflicting narratives. To that end, these narratives must be transformed/made “fit for peace”. How can this be achieved?
b. How can diverse perspectives be made visible in social discourse – or in a museum? What is the connecting element in this diversity? How can relativism and arbitrariness be excluded?

Transitional Justice is value-oriented and aims to help build sustainably peaceful and just societies. What do we know about its real impacts?

Transitional Justice sees itself as genuinely preventive. What can be done to strengthen its prevention capacities?

a. Gender in practice is primarily associated with the integration of women and their perspectives in processes and institutions. Which challenges need to be resolved through practical action?
b. Which other topics that can be addressed through TJ measures lend themselves to consideration through a gender lens?

 a. Which opportunities are opened up by the digitalisation of memory? What can be done to minimise risks and avert hazards?
b. How can knowledge and narratives about the past reach the general public?

Those born afterwards bear no direct responsibility. They may choose to ignore history or identify with perpetrators or victims. What can be done to awaken young people’s interest in history and motivate them to engage in building peaceful relations between communities?

Please feel free to suggest a new discussion topic in your blog post, such as issues relating to experience with Transformative Justice, reparation programmes, dealing with perpetrators and much more.

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