How important is reconciliation for healing wounds, building trust, rebuilding relationships between former enemies and rectifying injustices? Can a post-conflict state move from armed violence to peace and justice? These are the questions Elisabeth Porter asks in her provocative book Connecting Peace, Justice and Reconciliation, where readers are encouraged to evaluate and respond to her ideas, practices and strategies.
Professor of Politics and International Relations at UniSA, Porter has drawn from content in her advanced year international relations course, Peace, Justice and Reconciliation, to explore the core challenges that a war-torn state confronts once the violence has ended.
The book highlights narratives of hope, to signify that while disturbing acts have taken place, good work is going on to further peacebuilding, justice and reconciliation.
“Because so much of the content of the course is about seriously disturbing issues of war, violence, loss of lives, rape as a weapon of war, genocide etc, I seek to balance this by showing examples where individuals have been able to overcome the most incredible degrees of trauma, to coexist, apologise, forgive and reconcile,” Porter says.
There is an emphasis on the importance of listening to people’s stories, about how war and violence affects them differently and therefore how important it is to respond with compassion in ways that are sensitive to gender, culture, age, ethnic and religious difference.
Porter’s interest in the topic stems from her time lecturing at the University of Ulster during the ‘Troubles’ period of conflict, and later as Director of Research at INCORE, an international conflict research centre in Northern Ireland, during the period of the peace negotiations.
Chapter 1 is available online.