Reconciliation after war is to post-conflict studies what motherhood and apple pie are to American home life. And, after all, why not? Loosely adapted from the Oxford English Dictionary, to reconcile means to restore friendly relations after a period of estrangement or enmity; to make peace. To reconcile is not simply to be willing not to fight and to accept that one’s enemy might have a claim to be left alone—what I described in s.1.3 as negative peace. Rather, it is characterized by and requires the willingness to work together towards common political and/or economic goals on a footing of equality. In the present context, the goal is to establish a just peace or, if it cannot be achieved, a justifiedATC peace. This is not to underestimate how much of an achievement negative peace often is, particularly following mass atrocities. But reconciliation is the aim in sight. And what can possibly be bad about that?

There are lesser and greater modes of political reconciliation, of course—just as there are lesser and greater modes of reconciliation in interpersonal relationships.

Getting back together after a relationship break-up merely for the sake of the children and/or because divorce is economically impossible for either partner is one thing: doing so for those reasons and because both partners still love, desire, and respect each other notwithstanding the wrongdoings that led to the estrangement is quite another. By analogy, for belligerent communities to renew or build cooperative relationships through (e.g.) trade and/or political agreements merely because this is the only way to ensure that they do not go to war again within five years is one thing; for them to do so at least partly out of a genuine and deep commitment to build a peaceful future together is quite another.

Note that I wrote ‘to renew or build’. In intimate relationships, reconciliation always means to go back to a pre-existing loving or amicable relationship. In conflict cases, however, there often was no friendly relationship to begin with, or at least not within living memory. The plight of the Mayans in Guatemala, who died in their dozens of thousands at the hands of successive governments, is a case in point, as is the decades-long parlous state of enmity between Palestinians and Jews in Israel. Reconciliation in those cases means to undo the bad relationships which existed and/or were created by the war, and to build non-existent amicable relationships more or less from scratch. Equally often, however, reconciliation post-conflict can mean restoring enemies to amicable relations. The examples of communities which together made up the former Yugoslavia, and of the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, come to mind.

As some of the examples just given suggest, and indeed in line with the individualistic morality which underpins this book, reconciliation seemingly must operate not just between groups but also between individuals. For enemies conceived of as groups—the French, the German, the Hutus, the Tutsis—to reconcile with each other, it often must be the case that a significantly high number of their individual members should be willing to reconcile with each other as individuals. This might seem fallacious: it does not follow from the claim that a relationship between two groups has a property P that relationships between individual members of that group also have that property. Many historical cases bear that point out. Assume (plausibly, I think) that the steps which France, Italy, the Benelux, and Germany took towards economic and political cooperation in the late 1940s/early 1950s were instrumental to and an instantiation of European reconciliation in general and Franco-German reconciliation in particular in the aftermath of the Second World War.2 Assume also (again, plausibly) that one important reason as to why yet another war between France and Germany is utterly unthinkable is precisely that those two communities are long-term partners in the EU. I would wager that the overwhelming majority of French people have never had a conversation with a German. Whilst it is quite possible that the EU would be in better shape now if French and Germans in their majorities were united by personal bonds of friendship, it is by no means a foregone conclusion. Political and social reconciliation thus does not always require interpersonal reconciliation. [1]

Often, however, the former cannot occur without some degree of the latter— and it is on those cases that I will focus in this chapter. Following mass atrocities, it is hard to see how political reconciliation understood as a joint endeavour to promote peace could obtain without some degree of interpersonal reconciliation between perpetrators and victims, at least when they have no choice but to live side by side. By lack of choice, I mean any number of the following: victims and perpetrators simply lack the wherewithal to remove themselves from the wider community; or they are not morally permitted to leave since leaving would mean, for example, leaving their children even more vulnerable than they are; or sovereign communities have no choice, by dint of their geographical location, but to share borders, lakes, oil fields, gold mines; or they are not morally entitled to sever all relationships with each other because (e.g.) they are under obligations of reparations and reconstruction towards each other. Moreover, combatants often have no choice once they have lain down their weapons but to return to their villages, where they often have committed atrocities; their former neighbours, turned enemies, often have no choice but to face them daily. Most are both perpetrators and victims. All have to cope with untold physical and psychological wounds as they painfully go about rebuilding their lives—a struggle made all the harder by daily encounters with those whom, rightly or wrongly, they hold responsible for their predicament. Under those circumstances, political reconciliation is not conceivable unless most are willing to turn their personal relationship from one which is suffused with hatred and anger to one which is grounded in mutual acknowledgment of their equal status.

One might think, accordingly, that interstate reconciliation and intrastate reconciliation should be characterized by markedly different practices and governed by markedly different norms. In particular, one might think that interstate reconciliation merely calls for appropriate institution-building, the punishment of the worst of the war criminals, the payment of reparations, and the forging of multilateral or even supranational institutions, whereas reconciliation after civil conflicts necessarily calls for most of all of those plus a transformation of individuals’ personal relationships with, and therefore inner attitudes towards, their former enemies. There is some truth to that: those reconciliatory processes are bound to differ for the simple reason that enemy populations in former cases do not, but in latter cases do, have to live side by side. Yet, drawing such a sharp distinction between civil and interstate conflicts with respect to post-war reconciliation is misleading. For it matters too whether the conflict (civil or not) was marked by mass atrocities, how long it lasted, and how destructive it was of social, political, and economic life. It also matters whether one can relatively clearly describe some of its actors as only victims, others as only perpetrators, others still as both. Moreover, interstate conflicts sometimes trigger civil conflicts (as was the case in some mainland European countries during the Second World War, where partisans of Nazism and Resistants bitterly fought each other). Conversely, civil conflicts sometimes morph into interstate conflicts (as happened following the Rwandan genocide). In such cases, reconciliation might best operate along those two dimensions. To give a predictive example: it is not implausible to surmise that a durable peace between

Israelis and the Palestinians, when and if it finally happens, will require internal reconciliatory processes within each community, as well as reconciliation between

them. Within Palestine itself, Palestinians who have opposed the occupation and those who have collaborated with Israeli forces (many of whom have been tortured and murdered by their compatriots) will need to come to terms with this highly divisive feature of their collective past. Within Israel itself, tensions will need to be eased between supporters and opponents of the peace agreement. By dint of their long-intertwined and bloody history, as well as geographical contiguity, those two peoples will have no choice but to confront the legacies of external and internal violence.[2] Finally, even when erstwhile enemies do not have to live side by side after the war, the bloodier, longer, and more encompassing the conflict was, the more do reconciliatory processes require attitudinal changes—even in the absence of pre-existing personal relationships between individuals and thus even in the absence of interpersonal reconciliation.[3] [4] This is why reconciliation, particularly following civil conflicts marked by mass atrocities but also following similarly atrocious interstate conflicts, is more often than not rooted in individual reactive attitudes and dispositions.

Reconciliation, thus, is ‘a good thing’. But is it a requirement of cosmopolitan post-war justice? It might seem not, on two distinct grounds: first, on the grounds that cosmopolitanism really has little to do with it; second, on the grounds that there often is no duty to reconcile. I reject the first point, and qualifiedly accept the second.

Why might one think that cosmopolitanism has little to do with post-war reconciliation? Only parties in the conflict can reconcile with each other—by definition^ To the extent that the primary rationale for reconciliatory processes lies in their ability to improve chances that war-torn communities will be able to live side by side and work together towards the realization of a justifiedATC peace, the relevant rights and obligations vest only in those individuals: unlike the rights and obligations of cosmopolitan justice, which are general rights of all against all, the rights and obligations of reconciliation are special rights.

In reply: cosmopolitanism still has something to say about reconciliation, and humankind at large still has a stake in its constitutive processes. On the first count, although reconciliatory obligations inhere in special relationships, intra- and interstate reconciliatory practices are constrained by the same norms. On the second count, humankind, via the requisite institutions, is under a duty at the bar of cosmopolitan justice to assist them with those processes. Most obviously, it can do so by providing the human and material resources which many reconciliatory institutions require. In addition, international involvement with those institutions might help foster a sense amongst parties that they are appropriately impartial. To anticipate somewhat, consider the cases of the truth commissions established in Guatemala on the one hand, and East Timor/Timor Leste on the other hand, following the former’s civil war and the latter’s war with its colonial master Indonesia. As per the agreement signed by the Guatemalan government and the opposition in 1994, the Guatemalan Commission for Historical Clarification (1997—99) was to be chaired by a non-Guatemalan, to be appointed by the then-UN Secretary General. In East Timor, the UN Transitional Administration (UNTAET) oversaw the establishment of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (2001—05). Reconciliation, thus, is an entirely appropriate object of normative inquiry for a cosmopolitan theory of post-war justice.[5]

It remains to be seen how strong the duty to reconcile is. There are cases where reconciliation is not morally required—both as a political process and as a personal process upon which the former might depend. If, by reconciliation, one means the restoration or creation of something like the political relationship that existed or should have existed before the war, then a community which, post-war, has the right to secede is not under a duty to restore or build a relationship of co-sovereignty with its former enemy. Similarly, members of a persecuted minority might not be willing to stay in their country of origin after the war; if they all leave, political reconciliation of that kind between that group and the majority will not obtain either. This might conceivably have happened had all German Jewish survivors of the Holocaust left Germany after the war. On the plausible assumption that individuals generally have the right to emigrate and a fortiori so when they were victims of mass atrocities at the hands of their compatriots, those individuals simply are not under a moral duty to reconcile, politically speaking, with the latter. Similar considerations apply, mutatis mutandis, to reconciliation following interstate conflicts. Consider two belligerents A and B who were partners in an overall justified alliance before the war started—for example, a justified trade agreement. Suppose that A invaded B and that its combatants in the course of the war committed mass atrocities against civiliansB. Although both parties are under a duty to work towards the establishment of a justifiedATC peace, B in this case is not under a duty either to revive the old trade agreement or to accede to a new agreement with better guarantees against its being breached. The point is not just that no one is under a duty to enter in creative relationships (as per the taxonomy of ch. 4) with anyone else, whether as individuals or qua group members. It is also that one has even less of a reason to do so following a conflict in which trust has been so severely undermined.

As we saw above, however, former enemies often have no choice but to live together, or alongside each other, as partners in peace. If reconciliation is necessary for a justifiedATC peace, and given that individuals are under a duty to work towards such a peace, they are under a duty to reconcile—politically and, if necessary, personally too. But if there is a duty to reconcile (under some circumstances) and if reconciliation both consists in and requires affective attitudinal changes, it would seem that affective states—for short, emotions—are the kind of things one ought (or not) to have. In other words, there comes a point where anger, hatred, and resentment undermine prospects for peace and therefore are no longer morally appropriate.

To some, the latter point will seem vulnerable to the objection that our emotions, unlike our behaviour (at least in most cases) are beyond our control, and thus are neither blameworthy nor praiseworthy, let alone objects of judgements of rightness or wrongness, since moral judgements must pertain to what is within our control. Entering this particular fray would require engaging with 2000 years of ethical debate, beginning with Aristotle’s claim that we can in fact be judged by our emotions. Let me buttress the Aristotelian thought with admittedly sketchy claims. First, parents teach their children to be kind, forgiving, and generous; many people undergo psychotherapy in the hope that they will not simply learn to live with whatever emotions they are experiencing, but also in some cases change those emotions; most people expect criminals to feel remorse for what they did. If the claim that we have absolutely no control over our emotions is true, then they all are deluding themselves. Yet it does not seem that they are: children do acquire those emotional dispositions from their parents, some patients do change emotionally as a result of psychotherapeutic work, and some convicts do learn to feel remorse. Second, even though compulsive behaviour is sometimes exempt from moral judgement, it is not always so: the claim ‘but I could not help it’ will not always exonerate the agent from moral evaluation even if it happens to be true (think of the persistent sexual harasser). Third, whilst we may not be able to transform parts of our emotional landscape, we are (most of us, at least) able to at least try to do so. Perhaps we are not under a duty not to feel angry, jealous, resentful: but we certainly are under a duty to try to school ourselves out of those emotions, when they are unwarranted. Fourth, and relatedly, even if we cannot help feeling angry, jealous, and resentful however hard we try not to, it still is possible to say that our anger, jealousy, and resentment are morally unjustified in the sense that the target of our negative feelings has not done anything to elicit them. If only in that weak sense, emotions are amenable to moral appraisal.

To hold that view is one thing. Discerning which attitudinal changes and thus affective redirection are required for political reconciliation is another. To this issue, I now turn.

  • [1] See, e.g., Judt, Postwar, 153—9.
  • [2] For discussion of Palestinians’ collaboration with Israel between 1967 and 2000, see Rigby, Justiceand Reconciliation After Violence, ch. 7.
  • [3] A case in point is reconciliation between Germany on the one hand and, respectively, France,Israel, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech and Slovak Republics on the other hand. Those might beregarded as successes. A not so successful one is the case of Japan and China after the Second WorldWar. For discussions, see, e.g., L. G. Feldman, ‘The Principle and Practice of “Reconciliation” inGerman Foreign Policy: Relations with France, Israel, Poland and the Czech Republic’, InternationalAffairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944—) 75 (1999): 333—56; Y. He, The Search forReconciliation—Sino-Japanese and German-Polish Relations since WWII (Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 2009); A. L. Phillips, ‘The Politics of Reconciliation: Germany in Central-eastEurope’, German Politics 7 (1998): 64—85.
  • [4] For a particularly pithy point along those lines, see S. Levinson, ‘Trials, Commissions, andInvestigating Committees—The Elusive Search for Norms of Due Process’, in R. I. Rotberg and D. F.Thompson (ed.), Truth v. Justice—The Morality of Truth Commissions (Princeton, N.J.: PrincetonUniversity Press, 2000), 219. A similar view underpins Daniel Philpott’s and Jennifer Llewellyn’sappeal to a relational theory of justice as the best normative framework for understanding reconciliation after war. See J. J. Llewellyn and D. Philpott, ‘Restorative Justice and Reconciliation: TwinFrameworks for Peacebuilding’, in J. J. Llewellyn and D. Philpott (ed.), Restorative Justice,Reconciliation, and Peacebuilding (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014); Philpott, Just and UnjustPeace.
  • [5] For discussions of those two cases (and, in fact, of forty truth commissions), see Hayner,Unspeakable Truths; Rigby, Justice and Reconciliation After Violence, 166—72.
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