by Melani Van Der Merwe, South Africa
The second week of The Hague Symposium has been amazing yet emotionally taxing and gripping…eye opening! Through the stories and pearls of wisdom shared by some of the world’s experts in post conflict justice and reconciliation efforts, we saw and felt what it must have been like to go through the processes of coming to terms with the effects of conflict. We were left imagining the pain of these broken societies that so desperately needed peace. This experience, in my mind, had two effects: Firstly, it brought us closer to our goal of holistically conceptualizing the processes involved in aiding the (re) development of peace in a society that needs it so urgently. Secondly it complicated the process as we gained a new understanding of the complexities and uniqueness of each case.
On Wednesday the conversation that was started on Tuesday afternoon on the subject of the South African case was continued by Mr Charles Villa-Vicencio. He used one Zulu word in his lecture that perfectly captures the compromise that happened in South African society and consequently led to the relatively successful transition from Apartheid. In essence this is a focus on the greater good of society as opposed to what is good for the individual. It embodies most of what is meant by human rights as it suggests that an individual is human, only because of the existence of the human race. It looks past colour, religion, ethnicity, and only sees one big human race. Mr Villa-Vicencio made it clear that there is no such thing as a “copy and paste” model for transition, and that the timing for South Africa’s transition was perfect. However if there are three things that the world can learn from South Africa, this would be the following: that you don’t have to love your neighbour to live in peace; with great risk comes great reward and that compromise is the name of the game when it comes to transitional justice.UBUNTU