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The Politics of Reconciliation

Villa-Vicencio, Charles
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) In, Tristan Anne Borer, editor, Telling the Truths: Truth Telling and Peace Building in Post- Conflict Societies. Notre Dame: University Of Notre Dame Press. pp.59-81

I argue in what follows that political reconciliation does not necessarily include forgiveness – that reconciling post-conflict nations can settle for less than forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a priority for nation-building; neither is it a political task of the state. Forgiveness demands more than statecraft can deliver. The state can, however, create a context conducive to reconciliation, enabling people to learn to live together in pursuit of the common good. Political reconciliation is not a mere romantic or utopian ideal. It is a mode of realism – a serious option for living together in the midst of unresolved conflict. It does not suggest the immediate resolution of prevailing conflicts or an immediate solution to the problems involved. It concerns the establishment of an ethical relationship as a basis on which former enemies and antagonists can address prevailing problems in a viable and cooperative manner. Political reconciliation regards justice as an essential ingredient to reconciliation, recognizing that there are different ways of achieving and of defining justice. In societies emerging from violent conflict, this kind of reconciliation is often the only realistic alternative to enduring the escalating violence – and of achieving economic, social, and related forms of justice. (excerpt)


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