The 12th annual NIOD lecture in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, by Professor dr. Elazar Barkan, ‘Combatting History and the Challenges to Peacebuilding’.
About the lecture
Accountability for mass atrocities and the pursuit of peacebuilding are often presented as complementary. Yet increasingly they present conflicting priorities. While peacebuilding is often perceived as forward looking and avoids dwelling on the past, transitional justice advocates focus on the recent past and demand accountability, including criminal culpability. Neither addresses the memory of historical violence which stretches beyond criminal liability and is at the heart of many contemporary conflicts. The challenges presented by historical memories go further than the demand for justice. The paper explores this triangulation between historical memory, demands for justice, and conflict resolution. In particular, it emphasizes the role of conflicting truths, and varieties of justice and accountability, as these shape divergent perceptions of history in protracted peace processes.
About the speaker
Professor dr. Elazar Barkan is a Professor of International and Public Affairs and the Director of the Human Rights Concentration at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs in New York (USA). He was the founding director of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation (IHJR) in The Hague. His research interests focus on human rights and on the role of history in contemporary society and politics and the response to gross historical crimes and injustices. His written work includes The Guilt of Nations: Restitution and Negotiating Historical Injustices (2000).