Engaging with Victims and Perpetrators in Transitional Justice and Peace Building Processes

TitleEngaging with Victims and Perpetrators in Transitional Justice and Peace Building Processes
Publication TypeBook
Subtitle / Series TitleWorkshop Report of the International Workshop, 12. - 13. February 2008 in Bonn, Germany
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsServaes, S, Birtsch, N
Number of Pages26 pp.
PublisherArbeitsgemeinschaft Entwicklungspolitische Friedensarbeit (Gruppe FriEnt)
ISBN NumberISSN: 1861-8618
Accession Number1151

(Text taken from the Preface:)
Engaging with victims and perpetrators is probably one of the most sensitive and complex issues for external actors working on development and peace building. It starts with defining certain groups as victims or perpetrators in highly complex and politicised contexts, involves legal questions and moral dilemmas, and may touch on the vision an organisation is striving to realise.
Transitional Justice and peace building processes provide a range of mechanisms to deal with past atrocities and pave the way for building a society based on peace and justice. However, projects often tend to simplify categories of victims and perpetrators. Moreover, they overlook the necessity that peace building processes also have to transform these categorisations and build a basis for new identities beyond that of the past.
In our international workshop, jointly organised by the Working Group for Development and Peace (FriEnt) and the Center for Peacebuilding (KOFF) at swisspeace, we discussed some of these challenges and identified ways of dealing with them. Questions included: How may transitional justice mechanisms take into consideration victims and perpetrators as two - sometimes heavily intertwined - social groups in post-conflict societies? How can the design of such mechanisms contribute to transform the identities of victims and perpetrators? How are these considerations relevant to decisions development and peace organisations have to take?
Participants from development and peace building organisations as well as research institutions shared their respective experiences. Selected projects and approaches from different organisations and contexts provided the basis for a discussion on challenges and practice oriented options.
This document presents the main results of the presentations and debates. Furthermore, it tries to pinpoint a number of points to keep in mind for decisionmaking in development and peace building organisations.

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