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Challenging the Conventional: Can Post-Violence Renconciliation Succeed?

Description of the event

Reconciliation is a deeply complex process, which has gained increasing prominence on the agenda of peacebuilding and a given ingredient in almost any peace agreement and post-conflict reconstruction process. Yet reconciliation remains a contested and highly context-specific notion and there is a lack of understanding of what works in advancing reconciliation.

The Kofi Annan Foundation has partnered with Interpeace to examine past reconciliation efforts, with the support of the Government of Finland and the Robert Bosch Foundation.Their research, which is based on four case studies in Guatemala, Northern Ireland, DRC and South Africa and on experts’ inputs, resulted in the recent publication of a report titled ‘Challenging the Conventional: Making Post-Violence Reconciliation Succeed.’ This report examines some of the difficulties and dilemmas societies and the international community have encountered throughout reconciliation processes. It seeks to raise critical questions about how these issues can be addressed at different levels and by different actors, and what guiding principles are needed to ensure that mechanisms created to address these issues do not obstruct or contradict each other.

Building on this publication, Interpeace and the Kofi Annan Foundation, with the support of the Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations will present two panel discussions on February 13,  in New York City, to present the report to a diverse audience of policymakers, practitioners, academia, and civil society. The participants will outline the findings of the report and comment on their experiences and understanding of reconciliation processes in post-conflict politics.


  • Position the Reconciliation report as a benchmark for peace practitioners and experts
  • Demonstrate the applicability of the findings in different post-conflict settings
  • Raise the interest of stakeholders engaged in reconciliation in using the findings

Guiding Questions for the panel discussion:

  • How do the objectives, understanding and nature of reconciliation evolve and change over time depending on the features of conflict and where the country is in the peacebuilding process?
  • At what levels of society should reconciliation efforts be attempted? Can reconciliation processes focus on both intergroup relationships (horizontal reconciliation) and state- society relationships (vertical reconciliation)?
  • Who shall drive the reconciliation agenda? How to make sure the process does not give a prominent role to the state and armed groups, while overshadowing the victims?
  • How can the international community create conditions under which reconciliation can be initiated?

Launch for Policymakers-UNHQ

Date: 13 February

Time: 1:15 – 2:30 PM

Place: Room VI at United Nations Headquarters, New York City

Moderator: Finnish Ambassador Kai Sauer


  • Scott Weber
  • Maud Roure
  • Priscilla Hayner
Register here to attend

Public Launch-Columbia University

Date: 13 February

Time: 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Place: International Building 802 at Columbia University, New York City

Moderator: Elisabeth Lindenmayer


  • Scott Weber
  • Pamina Firchow
  • Priscilla Hayner
Register here to attend

Speakers Biographies

Scott M. Weber

President of Interpeace. A specialist in peacebuilding and conflict prevention, he leads Interpeace in its work supporting locally-led peacebuilding initiatives in more than 21 countries. Prior to his appointment, Weber served as Director- General of Interpeace from 2005-2018 and has worked at the United Nations, in the Office of the United Nations Director-General in Geneva (UNOG) and in disaster preparedness.

Maud Roure

Programme Manager of the Kofi Annan Foundation. She leads the work of the Foundation on the issues of transitional justice, reconciliation and justice. She also coordinates the Extremely Together project, a youth-led initiative that seeks to support young people in their efforts to counter violent extremism. Before joining the Foundation in 2017, Maud was the Head of Learning and Policy and a member of the Strategic Management Team at Interpeace.

Priscilla Hayner

Member of the Standby Team of Senior Mediation Advisers for the United Nations Mediation Support Unit where she has advised on issues of justice in peace negotiations, including in Yemen and CAR. Previously, she supported the Colombia talks, the Kenya negotiations of 2008 as an adviser to Kofi Annan and the UN-AU mediation team; and served as Senior Adviser to the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. She is a recognised authority in the field of transitional justice and an author of two major works on justice and peace.

Pamina Firchow

Assistant Professor of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. Her research interests include political violence, transitional justice, reconciliation and peacebuilding. Her work supports efforts that promote participatory numbers and mixed method research, such as the Everyday Peace Indicators. She was a Senior Fellow at USIP and serves as a consultant to various international peacebuilding organizations.

Ambassador Kai Sauer

Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations in New York. Previously, he served as Head of the Unit for UN and General Global Affairs of the Political Department at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Sauer entered the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 1995 and among his previous positions he has served as Senior Adviser to the SRSG to the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and to the SRSG in the Kosovo Future Status Process (UNOSEK) in Vienna.

Elisabeth Lindenmayer

Director of the International Organization and UN Studies Specialization at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and sits on the Board of the Kofi Annan Foundation. Her academic work focuses on the UN Security Council, peacekeeping and peace building in Africa, and the role of the UN. Lindenmayer has also had a long career at the UN, joining in 1977 and has served in a range of positions including as Executive Assistant, Assistant Secretary General, and Deputy Chef de Cabinet under Kofi Annan.