Reconciliation in Aceh: Addressing the social effects of prolonged armed conflict

In: Asian Journal of Social Science

Abstract

Aceh, Indonesia is one of the few societies that have successfully navigated a post-disaster transition following simultaneous natural and man-made disasters. Since the August 2005 peace agreement, Aceh’s road to recovery from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and 30 years of separatist war has been largely successful. However, key challenges remain to consolidate the success of Aceh’s post-disaster transition and ensure sustainable peace in the province. Reconciliation is among the challenges that has to date been largely neglected. While significant political and economic change has occurred, prolonged armed conflict left behind a legacy of negative intergroup relations in Aceh that has yet to be addressed.

As political realities have delayed implementation of mechanisms designed to promote reconciliation such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Human Rights Court, this paper argues that peacebuilding practitioners should adopt complementary approaches to reconciliation such as intergroup contact programs that are being proven effective in various international contexts. It will explore an important, and largely neglected aspect of Aceh’s post-disaster transition by providing an overview of the literature on reconciliation and intergroup contact, and highlighting key efforts to pilot these techniques and advance reconciliation in Aceh.

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