General Topics

The DwP Course covers a number of general issues of fundamental significance to Dealing with the Past (DwP), such as the following:

  • International norms and standards: The work of special rapporteurs and experts of the United Nations on the issues of reparations, impunity, and best practices in transitional justice has provided a normative framework for DwP that must be further elaborated, contextualized, and evaluated. 
  • The struggle against impunity: Combating impunity is one of the major challenges for DwP in any conflict and post-conflict context. The question of amnesty is a key factor in the recurrent peace vs. justice debate and should be addressed along with the issue of ’parallel powers’ in connection with a long-term strategy for DwP in the struggle against impunity.
  • Victim and perpetrator dynamics: Often enough, victims and perpetrators continue to live in close proximity to one another after the violence has subsided. How can a process of DwP contribute to the transformation of victim and perpetrator identities? What might a long-term process of reconciliation look like on a communal level?

Cross-Cutting Topics

There are several cross-cutting issues which will be raised, including the following:

  • Gender: The gender dimension of DwP is crucial at all levels. There has been a paradigm shift in international jurisdiction on the subject of sexual violence, in particular violence against women in recent years. The traumatic experiences of women and men should be taken into consideration when developing proposals for reparations and institutional reform.
  • Ownership: DwP initiatives should be nationally led and owned. This fosters their legitimacy and sustainability. The imposition of external models must be avoided. Without public awareness and educational initiatives and some form of public consultation, the public understanding and ownership of DwP initiatives cannot be guaranteed.
  • Conflict analysis/transformation: Conflict analysis and mapping are necessary tools to be utilized in designing DwP strategies. Consideration should also be given to coordination and oversight mechanisms for the implementation of a long-term approach to DwP. The issues of conflict sensitivity, “do no harm”, and conflict transformation are relevant for the development of specific DwP programs as part of any comprehensive DwP strategy.