The Review of International Affairs (RIA) Journal Archive

The Review of International Affairs (RIA) Vol. 61 No. 1138-1139/2010


The Tradition of Collective Guilt
Professor Dragan Simeunović, Ph.D
The Review of International Affairs (RIA), 2010 61(1138-1139):9-22
Abstract ▼
Collective guilt, i.e. ascertaining “guilt” to large social groups, whether they may belong to religious, ethnic, class, or simply “dangerously different” collectives, has been present in all environments, but, some nation states have developed it as a tradition. The first phases of this phenomenon existed since pre-Christian times on the basis of religious schisms. This may be considered from the aspect of the development of the civilization as a specific way of building ethnic and especially religious identities based upon a drastic form of distinction as well. Since those earlier days the natural basis of thinking and determination of guilt was the guilt of resistance and of being different, even present today. Added to this structure of collective guilt is the domination of the winner over the defeated, common for all environments and all outcomes of war. The general domination of Christianity in Europe and frequency of religious schisms intensified the aspect of sin and need for atonement, thence the Jews became the first collective sinners in Europe. In time, the accent of collective guilt became more secular and of this world. Punishment for religious differences more and more grew into punishment for exclusivity and of not fitting within the concepts of the social establishment — especially for resisting those dominating the society. Ideology ever more substituted religion for political interests as a reason for ascertaining collective guilt. This was especially affected by the state of absolute political domination of one political power. Therefore the next great guilt was the guilt of class. Following the October Revolution all those who somehow belonged to the bourgeoisie, even children, were considered guilty. The collective guilt of the Germans was a mixture of the guilt of the defeated and the guilt formed by the dominant ideological circles of liberalism and socialism over fascism. Their guilt was then expressed as the guilt of “threatening harmony” which was mapped out by both winning sides. Collective punishments ranging from excommunication and eviction to extermination. Proofs of guilt and innocence are unnecessary. The strong trust themselves and judge. Modern America (USA) like Europe suffers from an exaggerated aestheticism of politics. It is in that context that the tradition of collective guilt is developing a new dimension. The position of total superiority is possible even without totalitarism. In order to be bad, it is enough to be a collector of unfavorable qualities. The Serbs are such an example. First of all, they negatively provoked by their behavior the modern conception of European harmony imposed by the dominating powers and thereby directly threatened these interests. The religious difference of the Serbs was not in itself sufficient, so they were forced to accept the status of losers in a war which in fact they militarily survived if not won. As in the ancient inquisition, or not so long ago in the days of fascist and Stalinist totalitarianism, they were openly satanized as a collective. The practice of isolation by the powerful was once again repeated. The guilty are also required to degrade themselves obediently thereby acknowledging and giving legitimacy to the violence committed upon them. Transfer of guilt is also present. Old sinners are always active in pursuit of new ones, as they believe that it washes away their guilt and leads towards distribution onto other subjects. Today as before, no distinctions are made in collect guilt thereby compromising and destroying the innocent as well which is evidence that this ritual still survives in Europe.
Forgiving, Healing, or Simply Forgetting? The Many Faces of “Reconciliation’ in Political Transitions
Judith Renner
The Review of International Affairs (RIA), 2010 61(1138-1139):23-40
Abstract ▼
Vagueness is a characteristic feature of “reconciliation” in the discourse on transition. While “reconciliation” has been a central term in numerous transitions over the last 30 years, its interpretations and implementations varied profoundly across the cases. This article explores comparatively the reconciliation policies pursued in the transition processes of Spain, Chile, South Africa, and Sierra Leone. It argues that the dominant interpretations and political implementations of “reconciliation” can be understood as the products of the particular framing conditions set by the transitional context in each case. It concludes that vagueness might actually be the central contribution “reconciliation” makes to political transitions. It turns “reconciliation” into a flexible and interpretable discursive device which can be embraced by politicians and society and adjusted to the requirements of the particular transitional situation.
Running Head: GOING BEYOND TRUTH Going Beyond Truth in Reconciliation
Gabriel Twose
The Review of International Affairs (RIA), 2010 61(1138-1139):41-70
Abstract ▼
Many truth commissions assume that publicizing a history of violence aids reconciliation. This research hypothesizes that violent truths must be told in a certain context to encourage the acceptance of reconciliatory values. Study 1 shows that exposure to violent narratives publicized at South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) decreased students’ acceptance of reconciliatory values, but placing the narratives in the context of the healing purpose of the TRC ameliorated negative effects. Study 2 finds that among South Africans, more understanding of the healing purpose of the TRC was associated with greater endorsement of reconciliatory values, particularly among black respondents.
Do Truth Commissions make a difference? When and how truth commissions contribute to reconciliation
Klaus Bachmann
The Review of International Affairs (RIA), 2010 61(1138-1139):71-100
Abstract ▼
In this contribution, we analyze 18 different truth and reconciliation commissions, which have dealt with past atrocities during the last 30 years. Based on publicly accessible documents and already existing literature, we assess, if and eventually how they were able to contribute to reconciliation of divided societies, on whose behalf they were acting. We define reconciliation as the inclusion of former political enemies into the new political order and as the absence of radical and armed political contestation against this new order. We test some theoretical approaches about vetting procedures and transitional justice and conclude, that the way, transition societies deal with perpetrators from a fallen regime depends mainly on the distribution of power after transition and the degree of radical change, transition brought about. The character and scope of atrocities, for which the old regime is responsible, does not seem to affect the scope and intensity of retribution after regime change. Compared with the impact of the transition process itself and the power distribution between old and new regimes, the activities of truth commissions are only minor and hardly autonomous factors shaping transitional justice. We find, that only three truth commissions were able to contribute significantly to reconciliation in their countries: the commissions of Chile, South Africa and El Salvador.
Commissioning the Past in Northern Ireland
Dr Patricia Lundy
The Review of International Affairs (RIA), 2010 61(1138-1139):101-133
Abstract ▼
At the end of conflict societies are often faced with difficult choices about whether and how best to deal with the past. In Northern Ireland a Legacy Commission has been proposed. This article explores in what ways, if any, a truth commission might add value to the existing past-focused mechanisms in Northern Ireland, with a particular emphasis on the Historical Enquiries Team (HET). It further considers the dilemmas and tensions the proposed Legacy Commission has generated and what this tells us about the contested nature of transitional justice claims both in the international context and in one transitional society, Northern Ireland.
“ The Price of Peace, the Costs of War: Addressing Anti-Social Passions in Post-Conflict Liberia”
Rosalia de la Cruz Gitau
The Review of International Affairs (RIA), 2010 61(1138-1139):134-152
Abstract ▼
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia was established in 2005 with an ambitious mandate: to document the suffering of the victims of the 14year conflict and recommend perpetrators with amnesty or prosecution. As the only venue charged with investigating the crimes committed during the war, the TRC-Liberia became the de facto tribunal for those crimes. Using the research she gathered whilst working at the Commission, the author examines the methods used by the Commission in achieving their mandate, ultimately questioning whether justice was ever achieved for the victims.
The National Reconciliation Commission and Reconciliation in Ghana: an Assessment
Seidu Alidu
The Review of International Affairs (RIA), 2010 61(1138-1139):153-177
Abstract ▼
Ghana is a relatively peaceful country with a bitter past in terms of human rights abuses. It has established fair and transparent electoral processes, claims a better judiciary and legislative institutions. The promulgation of a liberal Constitution in 1992 and the establishment of horizontal institutions of accountability all contributed to the protection of individual human rights. It also experienced four military regimes during which many human rights abuses occurred. The NRC was therefore established to promote reconciliation in the country. But was a reconciliation process necessary at the time it was established and has it contributed towards reconciliation in Ghana?

Symposium on a book Remarks on Sympathizing with the Enemy

Seeing Sympathy: Remarks on Sympathizing with the Enemy
Alice MacLachlan
The Review of International Affairs (RIA), 2010 61(1138-1139):178-189
Transitional Justice and Equality: A Response to Eisikovits
Jamie Terence Kelly
The Review of International Affairs (RIA), 2010 61(1138-1139):190-196
Sympathy as Dynamic Social Capital
Aleksandar Fatić
The Review of International Affairs (RIA), 2010 61(1138-1139):197-205
Sympathizing with the Enemy: A response to MacLachlan, Kelley and Fatić
Nir Eisikovits
The Review of International Affairs (RIA), 2010 61(1138-1139):206-211

Book Reviews

Branislav RADELJIĆ
The Review of International Affairs (RIA), 2010 61(1138-1139):212-214
The Review of International Affairs (RIA), 2010 61(1138-1139):215-217


Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
Text of the Rome Statute
The Review of International Affairs (RIA), 2010 61(1138-1139):219-297