Peacebuilding: Reconciliation and recovery

Child soldier in the Central African Republic

To secure lasting peace, it is not enough to end violence. Unless the underlying causes of the conflict are eliminated, violence can flare up again at any time. Reconstruction must be accompanied by reconciliation in order to put in place a basis for stable social structures.

It is vital to rebuild state capacity to such an extent that government institutions can exercise their functions again. To that end, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) supports, for example, training for specialists and the development of administrative institutional capacity. Simultaneously, it supports judicial processes to deal with war crimes, reconciliation projects, and programmes which provide psychological support and counselling to victims of war. Germany pursues such activities both through direct intergovernmental cooperation with the country in question, for instance through the Civil Peace Service, and through initiatives within the framework of the European Union or the United Nations.

Returning to civilian life

When a conflict ends, it is often very difficult for combatants to resume normal civilian life. They have no prospects of building a future for themselves and, often, no source of income. Through reintegration programmes that are supported under Germany's development cooperation, former combatants who have handed in their weapons can talk about their experience, get psychological help, acquire vocational skills and thus gradually resume civilian life. A particular challenge in this field is the reintegration into society of female ex-combatants, and of women and children who have been forcibly recruited.

Facilitating a new beginning

Participants of the project Children's Republic of Benposta for former child soldiers and abused children in Bogotá, Colombia

Rebuilding destroyed infrastructure is another way of building peace. Roads and supply facilities, schools and administrative buildings must be repaired in order to enable the country to make a new beginning. It is rarely appropriate when doing so to re-establish the old structures unchanged. In most cases, a new start is essential, for the old institutions and infrastructure often reflect the unequal distribution of resources and power which must be overcome, as it caused the conflict or contributed to it.

Germany therefore also addresses the political framework, for example by advising governments on long-term reforms of the state and the justice system. In the legal sphere, its support includes assistance for truth commissions that investigate human rights violations. The crucial point is to have all parties to the conflict on board so that stable peace alliances can be built.

Safeguarding lasting peace

Eyewitnesses of the Rwandan genocide dance and sing at an event for trauma and conflict prevention

Peacebuilding requires a great deal of patience and perseverance. Usually, it is difficult to measure progress, as peacebuilding involves long-term processes in a highly complex environment. In order to create a basis for a peaceful future, fundamental social change is needed. This may take decades.

The German government considers sustainable peacebuilding a cross-cutting task for all federal ministries. In June 2017, it adopted its new guidelines entitled 'Preventing Crises, Resolving Conflicts, Building Peace'. In the guidelines, the German government acknowledges the interdependencies between peace and development that have also been emphasised in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This means that key areas of intervention to be addressed by Germany's peacebuilding work are the fields of human rights, social and political participation, gender equality, social cohesion, and the rule of law.

In order to make development processes peaceful and sustainable, a thorough analysis of the conditions in a given post-conflict or fragile country is needed. The BMZ therefore works closely with scientific institutions and think tanks such as the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies and the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik – German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in order to draw up conflict analyses on a regular basis, identify current needs for peacebuilding and adjust its country strategies accordingly.

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