Passive Participation in Conflict: A Framework for Reclaiming Wholeness [1 of 12]
Framework to Identify Passive Participants in Conflict (PPiC) [3 of 12]
In the aftermath of conflict, justice efforts traditionally focus on the highest-level perpetrators of violence and oppression. This punitive justice, such as war crimes tribunals, focuses on severe, public punishment of high-ranking officials. Societal condemnation of violence perpetrated by those in power remains a favored strategy for redress atrocities committed during war and conflict.
There remains a struggle within post-conflict and transitional justice communities regarding the degree of culpability imposed upon individual perpetrators of lesser crimes including complicity in these crimes. While culpability of the “leaders” is agreed upon, there remains discomfort in punishing those ‘merely’ following orders. Perhaps they may have complied involuntarily due to fear for their lives or their family’s well-being. Further, individuals who neither speak out nor act in support are generally immune from culpability for their lack of action.
Recognizing the inadequacy of prosecuting only top officials to heal communities and to promote lasting peace, recent post-conflict justice has included reconciliation within communities and focused on emotional injuries stemming from the conflict. This approach addresses individual suffering through direct dialogue between victims and perpetrators, such as the truth and reconciliation hearings in South Africa and the guacas courts in Rwanda. Over the last century, additional strategies to redress conflict injustice have included restitution, economic remuneration, and formal ‘apologies’. Nonetheless, the safeguards of justice and the perceived need to “move on” in post-conflict situations result in incomplete justice, and thus, incomplete healing.
Unacknowledged injustice can have crippling effects on individuals and society; when unhealed, this injury may be transmit across generations. This ripple effect leads to suffering and may perpetuate cycles of violence. The framework I propose for identifying passive participants of conflict aims to fill the gaps of traditional post-conflict models of justice in order to transform these passive experiences of injury from conflict. My hope is that by healing these injuries, we may end cycles of violence and live together in peace, joy, and harmony.