IDD Policy Brief: Social Repair in Divided Societies

In many societies polarised following violent intergroup conflict and large-scale abuses, transitional justice initiatives have not dispelled divisive myths and group identities. This brief by Research Fellow Huma Haider draws on lessons from the field of coexistence to suggest how transitional justice could promote reconciliation more effectively.

Key messages

  • Reconciliation – the process of repairing relationships and societies at all levels and confronting dominant narratives of the past – is a core goal of transitional justice (TJ). However, TJ processes and mechanisms are unlikely to achieve this goal unless they promote coexistence.
  • Coexistence initiatives include dialogue facilitation, intergroup projects aimed at achieving shared goals, and media campaigns designed to reframe the ‘other’. They can contribute to restoring trust, transforming perceptions and rebuilding relationships in divided societies. 
  • Transitional justice and coexistence initiatives can be mutually beneficial, and greater coordination could increase the impact of both. Community forums to design TJ strategies could build on established coexistence projects, and truth commissions could uncover the stories of those who saved the lives of ‘enemies’.

IDD Policy Briefs support evidence-based decision-making in international development, presenting the policy implications of research in a concise and accessible format.

Read the Policy Brief: 'Social Repair in Divided Societies' (PDF 470KB)