Dealing with the Past - Exchange and Reflect

How do you tell your child that she was born after rape? Experiences from Rwanda

02. May. 2020
Godelieve Mukasarasi and Simone Lindorfer

Dealing with the past for mothers of children born after rape is essentially about telling the truth. How can this be done in ways that do not reinforce the socially imposed silence but instead contribute to healing? The text reflects an experience from Rwanda.

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Too much too soon: Why people need stability to deal with the past

27. Apr. 2020
Johanna Lechner, Alena Mehlau and Katharina Montens

GIZ trauma experts working in countries neighbouring Syria reflect on how to respond to collective trauma among Syrian refugees. Taking into account the specific cultural context, GIZ staff question the well-known but rather individualistic concept of self-care and stress the need for collective care.

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Dealing with social trauma of a war through education for peace

20. Apr. 2020
Selma Porobić and Alma Jeftić

This blog post sheds some light on how peace education could transform social trauma in the context of Bosnia and Herzegovina with lessons for other post-war societies.

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Is it all down to trauma?

01. Apr. 2020
Cordula Reimann & Ursula König

Reflecting on the concept of collective trauma for understanding protracted violent conflicts. Taking up some of the resistance against the term of collective trauma, Cordula Reimann & Ursula König discuss why collective and transgenerational trauma are relevant and should be a key concept for development and peacebuilding/conflict transformation practitioners and practices.

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The Impact of Amnesties on Violence and Peace

27. Feb. 2020
Geoff Dancy

Do legal amnesties for combatants help end civil wars? International policy experts often take it for granted that amnesties promote negotiated settlements with rebels. However, a large number of amnesties are followed by continued fighting or a return to the battlefield. What, then, are the factors that make amnesties effective or ineffective?

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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?

Exposure to trauma and bereavement is common in conflict-affected regions. It affects indivduals and whole societies. Enjoying peace after the crisis is often impossible. How helpful is trauma resolution to the prevention of future conflicts? Who does trauma therapy address? Are there best-practice examples in post-crisis countries?

 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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