New Article: Waters, The Perils of Positing Civil Society in Conflict and Transition

Waters, Timothy William. “Clearing the Path: The Perils of Positing Civil Society in Conflict and Transition.” Israel Law Review 48.2 (2015): 165-87.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0021223715000060

 

Abstract
Can there be a general theoretical perspective on civil society’s involvement in transitional justice? This article considers this question in its application to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Within the study of transitional justice and conflict resolution, civil society – a notoriously plastic concept – can be understood narrowly as rights-oriented groups working ‘for’ peace, but the term is equally available to describe a broader array of communities that can either promote or prevent peace and justice.

It is, in fact, quite difficult to sustain a theoretical distinction between them, because transitional justice does not escape the dictates of politics – of differing human desires expressed through power. Efforts to memorialise imply conflict over the particular memories to be privileged; claims for reparations are not only demands for justice, but for material redistribution that in turn may promote conflict. A narrow view of civil society problematically assumes we even know – let alone agree on – what constitutes positive change.

It is, in fact, quite difficult to sustain a theoretical distinction between them, because transitional justice does not escape the dictates of politics – of differing human desires expressed through power. Efforts to memorialise imply conflict over the particular memories to be privileged; claims for reparations are not only demands for justice, but for material redistribution that in turn may promote conflict. A narrow view of civil society problematically assumes we even know – let alone agree on – what constitutes positive change.

The real work performed by civil society in promoting agendas of peace and justice cannot properly be understood without locating it in a defensible theoretical and empirical framework. Imagining a narrow civil society risks skewing our analysis of what civil society can do and actually does in relation to conflict. Civil society can clear the path to peace, or can provide the principal obstacles to it – it can simultaneously do both. In this it very much shares the ambiguous, multivalent profile of its classic counterpart: politics in the public sphere.

 

 

 

Events: October 2014 at the American University Center for Israel Studies

Monday, October 13, 7:00 PM “German Restitutions to Israel: Transitional Justice and Public Debate” lecture by Professor Norbert Frei (University of Jena, Germany) with response by AU Professor Richard Breitman.  Co-sponsored by American University Center for Israel Studies, Jewish Studies Program and Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.    Location: American University’s Mary Graydon Center Room 5.  RSVP: http://www.american.edu/cas/israelstudies/rsvp
Tuesday, October 28, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM “How Jewish Is the Jewish State?  Religion and Society in Israel” academic conference with 15 international scholars.  Co-sponsored by AU Center for Israel Studies and Jewish Studies Program.  Location: SIS Building Abramson Family Founders Room.  Click here for  program. RSVP: http://www.american.edu/cas/israelstudies/rsvp

 

Tuesday, October 28, 7:30 PMIsrael at the Crossroads of Democracy, Nationalism and Religion” lecture by Moshe Halbertal, Senior Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, Professor of Jewish Thought and Philosophy at Hebrew University, and a faculty member at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem, Israel.  Location: Mary Graydon Center (MGC) Rooms 4-5.  RSVP: http://www.american.edu/cas/israelstudies/rsvp

 

 

Cite: Ghosn and Khoury, The 2006 War in Lebanon: Reparations? Reconstruction? Or Both?

Ghosn, Faten and Amal Khoury. “The Case of the 2006 War in Lebanon: Reparations? Reconstruction? Or Both?.” International Journal of Human Rights 17.1 (2013): 1-17.

URL: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/jhr/2013/00000017/00000001/art00001

Abstract

The Lebanese government took an interesting path to recovery after the July 2006 War. It embarked on a mission to both compensate the victims of the war – a challenge to the traditional reparation model – and to rebuild the country. This article examines the Lebanese case by presenting the path the national government took in the aftermath of the war, analysing Lebanon’s decision to create a unique scheme – the adoption method – in its road to recovery, investigating the advantages and disadvantages of their approach, and last but not least providing some lessons learned on how individual reparations can be provided for victims of international humanitarian law in cases where there is no agreement in place.