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May 2017

Reflections on Reconciliation in the Middle East

A poster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad behind the vehicle of UN special envoy for Syria

On a recent visit to Beirut, Andrew Tomlinson, Director of QUNO New York, was invited to offer some reflections on reconciliation to a group of experts engaged in regional humanitarian and development action.

The presentation emphasized that reconciliation is a multi-generational process, that it is applicable wherever there are divided societies (at any level of development), that it has as much to do with prevention as it does with post conflict recovery, with the future as much as the past. Furthermore, while reconciliation is intimately connected with structural issues of inclusion and social justice in the longer term, at any one point in time the key is often to identify practical and realistic actions that, while consistent with the longer term ends, can move ahead irrespective of the ebb and flow of the larger political dynamics, and that such approaches can usefully combine the application of a restorative lens to a wide range of humanitarian, development, and commercial actions.

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