Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict

Post-conflict peace building and reconciliation 

All conflicts, including those rooted in ethnic identities, change over time. In some places, conflicts that many observers thought were destined to turn violent (e.g. Canada-Quebec, Ukraine) failed to do so. Why this was the case? The aftermath of conflict and violence contains a number of specific challenges including creating constitutional arrangements and institutions, (re)constructing civil society, demilitarization, redefining  the role of the military and police forces, providing transitional justice and reconciliation, addressing the needs of vulnerable sectors and groups for which the society often requires outside assistance in the form of resources, skills, and political support, reintegrating internally and externally displaced populations, and deciding how to mark the past and memories of it. It is useful to consider the problems of peace keeping and peace building as a two-level gameā€”one played out within each group and one between groups. Peace building and conflict mitigation become difficult because the reduction of conflict between groups often provokes within-group opposition and claims that those willing to negotiate are selling out their own community. As a result, movement towards better intergroup relations is often slow and can depend on developing support for continuing peace processes that isolate extremists and spoilers, and promote the ingroup policing of intergroup violence. Third parties, Non-Governmental Organizations, International Governmental Organizations, and individual governments often play an important role in transitions, yet the key to success rests with the development of internal political changes in local institutions and practices and a significant commitment to the peaceful management of differences. Research at the Asch Center aims to identify and understand a set of issues and trade-offs that must be addressed at some point in any society coming out of severe, violent conflict.