Monday, March 18, 2013

Basque Social Forum to Promote the Peace Process

I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the Basque Social Forum to Promote the Peace Process, bakebidea.com. I was asked to speak about Dealing with the Past.


Below is my Tweet record of my talk. Obviously, a summary but core ideas contained.

Tweet record sent 16 March 2013:

  • Yesterday had the pleasure of speaking at the Basque Social Forum to Promote the Peace Process www.bakebidea.com #bakeforo
  • Bake Bidea seeks to promote reflection about the Basque peace process through dialogue with the public in public forums #bakeforo
  • Speakers included myself, Colm Campbell, Kieran McEvoy (@kieranmcevoy2), Andy Carl, and Martin Snodden (pictured above in order) followed by public discussion
  • We spoke in Bilbao to an audience of some 300, my topic was dealing with the past #bakeforo
  • Dealing with the past is the process of addressing a legacy of violence #bakeforo
  • Conflict is often about simplicity, we are divided, good and bad. Dealing with the past is about embracing complexity #bakeforo
  • When I talk about dealing with the past I draw on Healing Through Remembering (@HTRinfo) who are concerned with structured, active and purposeful attempts #bakeforo
  • Dealing with the past is a wide ranging subject, but largely focuses on what strategies and mechanisms #bakeforo
  • Examples include, among others, storytelling, to memorialization, to truth commissions, apologies, community projects, reparations #bakeforo
  • Drawing a line is a way of dealing with the past, but it generally does not work. Look at the case of Spanish Civil War now #bakeforo
  • From my experience there are six key lessons we now know about dealing with the past in countries emerging from violence #bakeforo
  • Lesson 1: Dealing with the past is wider than a truth commission, you need multiple strategies at different levels over long term #bakeforo
  • You can do dealing with the past work in the absence of political agreements and it continues after formal processes like TRCs too #bakeforo
  • Lesson 2: different political realities determine the types of approaches taken. No one approach. It always involves compromise #bakeforo
  • Political realities mean for example complete amnesty is unlikely and incomplete retributive justice for victims is a reality #bakeforo
  • Lesson 3: You need a wider aim and vision. Victims are central and those involved in violence, but the process is about society #bakeforo
  • You need social and political buy in into processes with all players involved, it is top down and bottom up, and institutional #bakeforo
  • Lesson 4: seek complexity and learn to live with different views of the past, while “narrowing permissible lies” (Ignatieff) #bakeforo
  • Absolute truth is not possible. But we can narrow what societies see as acceptable and break myths about the past #bakeforo
  • In South Africa it was helpful to know all sides committed violations, maybe for different reasons, but there was a dirty war #bakeforo
  • We must highlight stories of complexity that challenge our simplistic notions of good and bad #bakeforo
  • Getting information about causes, nature and extent of a conflict is important through truth recovery processes #bakeforo
  • Lesson 5: we need to seek new ways of framing the conflict and create the spaces where we can do this #bakeforo
  • We need to pay attention to language and symbols, not become fixated but work through processes to understand the latent meaning #bakeforo
  • We must engage in public discussions about the past, and reframe issues like the changing of murals in Belfast #bakeforo
  • ...or victims and combatants to be given space to speak of their experiences #bakeforo
  • Lesson 6: trust must be built at all levels and honesty in engagement is vital to maintain trust (HTR) #bakeforo
  • We should not lie to victims for example and promise them complete justice when the political reality is this won't happen #bakeforo
  • But confidence building mechanisms are needed like apologies and acknowledgement, along with consultation and participation #bakeforo
  • Thank you and all the best with the Forum, this type of public engagement is important in peace processes #bakeforo

Tweets sent by others referring to my input on 15 March 2013:

  • @PaulRios Hamber: los conflictos son sencillos (buenos/malos) Los procesos de paz son complejos #bakeforo (at 6:35pm)
  • @PaulRios Hamber: olvidar puede ser una estrategia pero no funciona #bakeforo (at 6:38pm)
  • @PaulRios Hamber: las amnistías completas no tienen sitio en el contexto internacional #bakeforo (at 6:47pm)
  • @PaulRios Hamber: las víctimas son centrales en estos proceso pero el proceso es acerca de la convivencia en la sociedad #bakeforo (at 6:48pm)
  • @PaulRios Hamber: la honestidad es fundamental. Por ejemplo, hay quien crea falsas expectativas en las víctimas #bakeforo (at 6:57pm)
  • @BarcenaPatricia Hamber: Aprender a vivir con visiones diferentes. Como la verdad absoluta no es posible hay limitar "las mentiras posibles" en #bakeforo (at 10:15pm)