Reconciliation encompasses truth-telling, sharing of historical narratives, or dialogue to transform relations among groups affected by conflict and rebuild trust between the state and citizens so that former enemies can envision and realize a shared future. USIP supports research to evaluate and better understand the practices of reconciliation used around the world and their impact.
During and after the Vietnam War, up to 500,000 “children of war” were born to foreign soldiers and local women in Vietnam. Amerasians — children of war fathered by U.S. soldiers — and adoptees raised abroad are now reclaiming their narratives and healing journeys.
Americans and people worldwide are alarmed, even despairing, at our world’s rise in violent conflict. Amid Russia’s assault on Ukraine and yet another brutal spasm of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, people are rightly asking what changes our governments and communities need to halt this spread of bloodshed, notes Ambassador Johnnie Carson, a dean of diplomacy and peacebuilding. Days from now, the world will mark 10 years since the death of Nelson Mandela, the liberation leader, South African president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Mandela’s example, Carson says, offers reminders of what we need today to turn back the tide of warfare.
Despite the destruction wrought by Russia’s invasion, Ukraine has continued to provide services to its people at an exemplary level throughout the war. This commendable resilience stems from significant investments and reforms made over the last 30 years. Notably, bolstering institutional capacity, the digitalization of public services, robust engagement with civil society, and a deeply rooted culture of voluntarism have all played crucial roles. Furthermore, the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), where I serve as Ukraine’s resident representative, has been instrumental in building resilience across all strata of Ukrainian society.
The People-to-People Reconciliation Model is a tool that models the potential for success of people-to-people reconciliation interventions using game theory. The model focuses on interventions that attempt to influence small collections of individuals — with the expectation that changes among such small groups can spread through populations and create widespread change.
South Korea and Japan normalized relations in 1965, but unresolved historical disputes continue to undermine genuine bilateral reconciliation and optimal diplomatic, security and economic cooperation. Past efforts, both between the two countries and trilaterally with the United States, to help improve relations have generally emphasized a “future-oriented” approach that focused on common security and economic interests.
In support of the Evidence Act and as part of the U.S. national security architecture, USIP is carrying out its own learning agenda. Peacebuilding has long been viewed as too messy and complex for evidence-based approaches — but USIP’s mix of research and practice belies that assumption.