Sparked by continuous violence and conflict, there is a renewed debate among the academia, peace activists and practitioners on how to respond to war adequately and effectively. Further developing and stimulating this discussion is critical as lessons can be learned and reconciliation processes coordinated. While there is no blueprint for dealing with post-conflict complexities, various, crucial questions need to be discussed and reviewed, if not answered; including, how should we balance justice, truth, peace and security and what should reconciliation processes address and include in our mandate?
There is a need for the integration of reconciliation in the transitional justice landscape as well as the implementation of reconciliation efforts in post-conflict situations, to become the norm. Yet, this calls for clarity on what reconciliation means and what it aims to achieve, as well as a framework for reconciliation. Through the use of dialogue, the Pan-African Reconciliation Network (PAREN) will seek to come up with a common understanding of the term, which can guide us in our search for peace and justice on the continent of Africa.
Through the exchange of theory and practice of reconciliation, one can arrive at a common understanding of the meaning and purpose of reconciliation efforts as well as refine and improve it. Moreover, dialogue brings together stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, consequently enabling a variety of ideas and viewpoints to contribute to a new, all-encompassing, globally applicable framework for reconciliation. Through the establishment of the Pan-African Reconciliation Network, IJR intends to mobilize a critical mass of stakeholder by facilitating dialogue and consequently fostering a global reconciliation agenda.
Housed within the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR), PAREN holds the potential to mobilise scholars, policy makers and practitioners to become the architects of a global framework for reconciliation. Created in the aftermath of South Africa´s TRC, the IJR helps to build fair, democratic and inclusive societies in Africa through carefully selected engagements and interventions. With the TRC considered an example to follow, inspiring societies emerging from violence on the African continent, there is a need for renewed commitment to reconciliation as we face continued violence globally.
Proposed and facilitated by the IJR, PAREN is an avenue for stakeholders in the field to come together to dialogue, with the ultimate aim of steering a new global agenda in the search for peace and justice. PAREN will be able to build on and draw from the work done across the continent, as well as foster a regional and global revived commitment to reconciliation.