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Just Reconciliation

The Practice and Morality of Making Peace


Edited By John R. Elford

Most people desire peace but understand that military intervention is sometimes required as a last resort. This book argues that more attention must therefore be given to the study and practice of post-conflict reconciliation. The essays collected here look at the work of figures such as Marc Ellis, Donald Reeves, Justin Welby and the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’ Andrew White, and examines how these individuals portray the different successes and failures of reconciliation in dangerous situations. Other chapters examine the contributions made to reconciliation activity by psychology, aid distribution, commissions and peace treaties. The countries and regions under discussion include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ghana, the Middle East, Iraq, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. The contributions reflect both religious and secular views on reconciliation.
The central debate takes place in the context of the changing role of the military in the modern world. The essays in the volume argue that issues relating to reconciliation and the post-conflict reconstruction of civil society should be considered a part of the moral assessment of military action and that the theory of just war needs to be developed to include considerations of this kind.


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Lakshman Dissanayake - Social Reconciliation in Sri Lanka 147


Lakshman Dissanayake Social Reconciliation in Sri Lanka Introduction This chapter examines reconciliation activities in post-conf lict Sri Lankan society. The consequences of the thirty-year ‘civil war’ in Sri Lanka have been disastrous, creating development and humanitar ian challenges. The majority of Sinhalese, as well as other communities, including most of the Tamils, have welcomed the cessation of armed conf lict. However, those involved remain in what is called conf lict trap.1 Countries that resolve conf licts peacefully are disposed to continue living in peace. This is more dif ficult to achieve for other countries, particularly in situations involving diverse ethnic groups, but this does not mean that Sri Lanka cannot work towards peace successfully. One issue is that reconciliation activities are frequently top-down. This overlooks the importance played in them by traditional social structures; I will examine this issue in detail in the chap- ter. Youth unrest has been central to the conf lict. Although some assert that the rights of the Tamils have been denied by the successive govern- ments since independence in 1948,2 it is important to remember that the majority of Sinhalese have been similarly af fected. Sinhalese youth unrest notably erupted in 1971 and was militarily suppressed. This unrest recurred 1 P. Collier and N. Sambanis, ‘Understanding Civil War: A New Agenda’, Journal of Conf lict Resolution 46/1 (2002), pp. 3–12. M. Duponchel, ‘Can Aid Break the Conf lict Trap?’ (2008), available online at EDiA/papers/316-Duponchel.pdf, accessed 26 August 2010. 2 Chelvadurai...

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