Manual Religion and Conflict Resolution: Christianity and South Africas Truth and Reconciliation Commission

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Edition 1st Edition. First Published Imprint Routledge. Pages pages. Export Citation.

Get Citation. There Was This Goat. Haron, Muhammed. Megan Shore.

Index Note: numbers preceded by n. Editorial Reviews. By Shore, Megan. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, How did.

Religion and conflict resolution

It has two. This case study explores the religious underpinnings of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a governmental body established to facili- tate the peaceful.. Moreover, the moral force of Christian forgiveness was augment- ed by the.. In his study of religion and conflict resolution in civil wars, Svensson finds that conflicts are difficult to resolve when religion is involved; therefore, the role of religion should be de-emphasized by policy makers but not neglected altogether.

Cox and Philpott argue that faith-based diplomacy towards reconciliation is likely to occur in contexts where parties define themselves by their religion; where certain religious leaders enjoy charisma; where there is space for civilizational dialogue; and where faith-based diplomats are well positioned to become trusted envoys. These leaders can more easily tap into the cultural subtleties and processes, which becomes especially important given that symbolic and nonverbal ritual acts have the power to truly bond adversaries and help achieve peace Schirch, Underlining the importance of rituals and symbols in conflict resolution within the context of the Arab—Israeli conflict, Gopin c , pp.

Not all organizations pay sufficient attention to religious rituals in postconflict processes, and one can even argue that even in the academic literature, the role of rituals is understudied.

Schwarz , for example, argues that prayer is ignored in transnational advocacy scholarship. Governmental funding organizations like the United States Agency for International Development recognize the importance of prayer in community projects and initiatives, Schwarz argues, yet there are restrictions regarding the integration of prayer into government-funded activities as prayer is often erroneously seen as a solely private activity that does not have a place in the public sphere.

Once religion comes into the picture in conflict settings, it has the potential to change the cost-benefit calculus in negotiations. Through introduction of religion to negotiations and conflict resolution, Luttwak , p. Studying faith-based mediation, Bercovitch and Kadayifci-Orellana , p.

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Public Theology and Reconciliation

Even within the military, Moore asserts that the existence of specially trained military chaplains can facilitate religious leader engagement in conflict and postconflict areas. Philpott and Shah argue that European federalism that is embodied in the European Union has origins in religious ideas. In a similar vein, although faith-based institutions can play critical roles in the aftermath of religious conflict, their peacebuilding programs are not just confined to addressing religious conflicts but also apply to those where religion is not the core dimension of the conflict Smock, Whether a conflict is religious or not, culture and religion are integral parts of the postconflict process.

Barnett and Stein , p. Policymakers and academics alike have found traditional secular approaches to postconflict processes insufficient. Drawing attention to the rise of religious extremism on both sides of the Israeli—Palestinian conflict, Landau argues that the active participation of credible religious authorities in the peace process is a must, and the conflict cannot be solved with just utilitarian and rationalist diplomatic paradigms.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright confirms this assertion. Every religious tradition has its own sources of nonviolence within itself. The first of the four bodies of literature considered in this section underlines these spaces of peace in religion. Gentry not only highlights the commonalities regarding nonviolence across Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, but also argues that these commonalities distinguish religious approaches to peace from secular ones.

In a similar vein, Philpott elaborates on the key concepts in three Abrahamic religions that can form a basis for a conversation between the religious and the secular without confining the traditions to their institutional structures or particular manifestations.

Tutu's activism for justice shows how theology can be made real

Auerbach focuses on the different approaches of religions to reconciliation and forgiveness. He argues that while Judaism and Islam see repentance as a necessary condition for forgiveness, Christianity emphasizes mercy and love and teaches its believers to ask and grant forgiveness without preconditions.

Abu Nimer points out the abundance of religious indigenous practices and values in Muslim communities and argues that there is no need to mechanically import Western-based peacebuilding models. Dragovic studies the Catholic and Islamic specific to Bosnia and Herzegovina perspectives and institutions as they relate to postconflict statebuilding.

The second body of literature recognizes the unique potential of faith in attaining peace.

South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Scholars have devised theoretical frameworks and concepts that focus on the overall dynamics of religion and spirituality, and their impact on peace processes. For example, Little , p. Another perspective on religion and peacebuilding within this second body of literature is the investigation of religious actors as communities of expertise, or epistemic communities. Sandal applies the epistemic communities framework to the religious leaders who are working towards peace and reconciliation in conflict settings. She argues that religious leaders can be treated as epistemic communities in their policy-relevant work towards peacebuilding, and that religious expertise on peacebuilding diffuses across borders.

David Stevens , former general secretary of the Irish Council of Churches and former leader of the prominent religious peace organization Corrymeela Community, states that these connections and diffusion of knowledge matter in peacebuilding. Stevens , p. This type of epistemic influences show that efforts in one context can easily have an impact on other postconflict processes.

In light of the recognition of religious peacebuilding, scholars have investigated how future peacebuilders should be educated. As part of this discussion on education, Abu Nimer introduces an interreligious peacebuilding training approach grounded in both intercultural sensitivity training and conflict resolution training concepts. Based on the data he gathered between and , Abu Nimer concludes that integrating cognitive instrumental , affective here and now , and behavioral action elements in such training contributes to the process of change sought by the interveners.

The third main body of the literature investigates who engages in peacebuilding and under which conditions. What is it about certain religious actors that makes them ideal for peace interventions or facilitating transitions?

South Africa - De Klerk makes apology

What do they offer? What are the consequences? There are well-known religious leaders who have contributed to the conceptualization of peace and human rights. Heft , for example, argues that John Paul II provided much of the vocabulary for solidarity in human rights and advanced a distinct theology of peace.

Religious actors, however, do not need to have such a high profile to have an impact in conflict transformation. Johnston and Cox , p. Ganiel and Dixon take a step further and, based on their study of Northern Ireland, argue that engaging with fundamentalists will introduce new avenues for conflict transformation. In his work on cross-cultural conflict transformation, Lederach highlights and investigates three levels religious leaders can influence: grassroots, middle-range, and top leadership. In their conceptualization of religion and peacemaking, Brewer, Higgins, and Teeney count four strategic social spaces in civil society involved with advocacy of positive peace that religious actors should take an active part in: intellectual, institutional, market, and political spaces.

This multilevel involvement of religious actors in peacebuilding is not without its challenges. Cejka , p. In that vein, she reports that religious motivations are cited much less frequently by peacemakers than ideological, practical, or relational motivations. There is also the question of the impact of religious traditions of the sides to conflict, on the duration of the peace process. Gurses and Rost ask this very question and find that sides in a conflict that share the same religious tradition are less likely to have durable peace after the end of the conflict, and there is a higher risk that the conflict will recur.

The fourth body of literature that investigates religion and peacebuilding looks critically at religious interventions in the name of peace, taking into account the history of colonialism and power imbalances. Many of the settings in which peacebuilders and humanitarians operate have distinct political structures and legacies.


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Grovogui reminds us that, historically, Western colonizers have seen the lands they colonized as repositories of culture that are not capable of governing themselves. There are also significant contributions to the field that investigate the missionary movements and their political involvement. In a similar vein, scholars have also questioned the neutrality of religious organizations when it comes to deciding which conflict and postconflict settings they will get involved in.

The strings attached to postconflict interventions, secular or religious, can cause long-term challenges. When imposing conditions on postconflict communities, it is critical to think about how these conditions will resonate with the values and institutions of the society in general. Critical scholarship on religion and postconflict processes also points to the gaps and misconceptions both in policy and in the literature.

Coming from a religious studies angle, Omer , p. She proposes a relational dialogist approach that recognizes the multifaceted relations among institutional, ideational, individual, communal, irrational, and rational dimensions of religion. Grzymala-Busse , p. What is more, there are religious leaders who benefit more from maintenance of the interethnic divides; and finally, there are religious leaders who are not willing to admit the crimes committed by their community.

All these factors made it difficult to see meaningful contributions by religious leaders to peacebuilding in Bosnia and Herzegovina. From a methodological standpoint, there are measurement challenges in the investigation of religion and postconflict processes.

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Analyzing the impact of faith-based peacebuilding is not easy. Silvestri and Mayall , p. Rather than presenting one factor as a single explanation for violence or peace, scholars and policymakers should recognize each factor as part of a complex equation. In postconflict societies, good governance and law are keys to reconciliation and transition to a functioning society.