Dealing with the Past - Exchange and Reflect

La Comisión de la Verdad – The Voice of Those Who Cannot Speak

17. Dec. 2019
Linda Helfrich (GiZ) interviewed Carlos Martín Beristain

Carlos Martín Beristain is a Spanish doctor and psychologist from the Basque country, who has coordinated the Guatemala Nunca Más Report for the REMHI (Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica) project in Guatemala. In Colombia, he is one of eleven commissioners working for the Comisión de la Verdad (Truth Commission). The state commission was set up under the final peace agreement signed between the Colombian government and the FARC to end the conflict and build a stable and lasting peace. One of the commission's tasks is to clarify the patterns and causes of the internal armed conflict.

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Systematising conflict narratives and making them transparent – a precondition for …?

17. Dec. 2019
Interview with Dirk Splinter

inmedio analyses conflict narratives under laboratory conditions – be they the Western and Russian or the Russian and Ukrainian discourses about the recent past. But how does this work, and what happens to the results? We talk to Dirk Splinter.

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The Multidimensional Remembrance Monitor (3): An active engagement with the past is associated with a felt responsibility for the present

13. Dec. 2019
Michael Papendick and Dr. Jonas Rees

The culture of remembrance in Germany, widely appreciated internationally, is grounded in numerous state-funded institutions and an extremely vital civil society engagement. But what do we know about its impact on the attitudes of Germans?

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Development of a concept of transitional justice for Ukraine

13. Dec. 2019
[Translate to English:]

The international civil society platform CivilM+ recently offers recommendations for an effective policy for the reintegration of the population affected by the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Transitional Justice is part of it.

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The Justice 3rd Continental Transitional Forum for all African Union (AU) Member States

06. Dec. 2019
Interview with Annah Moyo

The Forum was hosted by the AU in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) 24-26 September, 2019, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Although, the African Union Transitional Justice Policy is closely linked to other international norms and standards on transitional justice, it however takes into account the nuances of various forms of human rights violations which are peculiar to the African context and proffers context- specific solutions to them by striking a balance between reparations and development, various understandings of democracy and controversial issues such as the granting of amnesty.

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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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