How do societies emerging from war come to terms with their recent violent past? How can people and communities, deeply divided and traumatised, regain trust in fellow citizens and state institutions, achieve a sense of security and economic stability, rebuild a moral system and a shared future? Apparently, this is a complex and long-term process, which ultimately has to involve all layers and structures of a society. Nevertheless, many experiences of past decades suggest that truth-seeking mechanisms and public recognition of responsibility, as well as re-establishing justice through various means, are important elements of this process. They – amongst others – assist societies to constructively deal with their violent past, (re)establish accountable and democratic institutions and achieve reconciliation. Over the course of time, different approaches have been established – more recently referred to as transitional justice mechanisms (see Kritz 1995; UN Report 2004)1 – in order to address the question of truth and justice in societies transitioning from war to peace. These approaches or mechanisms are: a) prosecution of war criminals before both national and international courts, b) reform of state institutions, especially reform of the security sector and the justice system.
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