The purpose of this article is to question some basic assumptions regarding reconciliation after wars and mass atrocities. Indeed, how can numerous policy-makers, practitioners, and scholars contend that reconciliation is necessary while it is often distrusted and rejected by victims? Are there not cases where calls for reconciliation would prove to be fruitless and even detrimental for peace and/or democracy? To answer these questions, it is worth looking at the interactions between reconciliation and negotiation. Beyond a theoretical interest, this question has a direct impact for practitioners; a better understanding of the issue is actually a sine qua non condition for more efficient interventions. In terms of methodology, this study refers to various examples as illustrative cases (Afghanistan, Rwanda, South-Africa, and the Franco-German case). Its objective is not to capture the complexity of each case study but to determine to what extent reconciliation can be considered as negotiable.
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Gardner-Feldman (2002) distinguishes philosophical-emotional and practical-material components of reconciliation. In the same line Long and Brecke (2003) analyse two main models of reconciliation: a signalling model and a forgiveness model. Hermann (2004) discerns cognitive emotional-spiritual and procedural aspects of reconciliation. Nadler (2001) puts an emphasis on socio-emotional and instrumental reconciliation. Schaap (2005) emphasizes restorative and political reconciliation approaches. Galtung (2001) refers to no less than twelve different conceptions of reconciliation.