Friday, April 30, 2010

    • Document: International Experiences of and Approaches to Conflict Resolution

  • Conference for a Democratic Society 27-28 February 2010, Diyarbakir, Kurdistan- A timely conference looking at international experiences of and different approaches to the solution of political conflicts took place on 27-28 February in Diyarbakir. It was attended by more than 120 participants amongst them academics, writers, politicians and former diplomats from various countries.
    Discussions held ranged from international experiences of conflict resolution to giving advice and suggestions on how to approach a peaceful and democratic settlement of the Kurdish question. The following is giving an overview of the findings and valuable insights gained by the conference. There are many lessons to be learnt from countries across the globe having experienced prolonged and violent civil conflicts.

    The participants of the conference agreed that the Kurdish question has the potential to be solved on the basis of political convergence and a democratic dialogue. Past conflicts around the world demonstrate that fear of a solution leads to unneccessary delay in the political process creating deep wounds which are difficult to heal. The experience of countries such as Irland, Galicia, Wales, the Basque country, Catalonia, South Africa and Bolivia show clearly that at a crucial point violence will reach a dead end. Violence will not lead to any solution. The only way forward is to initiate truthful reciprocal negotiations and a broad political dialogue.

    Thus, it is crucial to precisely define the conflict in question and identify the relevant parties. The foundation of any solution must be built upon an acknowledgement of the problem, understanding for the counter-part and the development of a shared language describing the issues at stake. Measures creating trust and understanding on both sides are vital for any negotiation process that is to follow. The conference pointed out the importance of creating a trustful relationship between the conflicting parties removing existing doubts, distrust and feelings of exclusion. It seems indispensable that all relevant partners in both societies are involved in a process of dialogue and deliberation. Lasting peace can only be created by the engagement of the state, opposition forces and society as a whole.

    Experiences of conflict resolution across the world show clearly the significance of acknowledging and dealing with the past in a truthful, critical and cooperative manner. The conference urged all parties of the Kurdish conflict to face and deal with their common past with frank discussions and a redefinition of history. This includes all political representatives of the Kurdish people generally as well as the PKK particularly. Such a process of coming to terms with the past will impact positively on finding solutions to the Kurdish question. In turn it is essential for the Turkish state to critically discuss its own history, its approach, pursued practices and the public discourse regarding the Kurdish 'problem'. This will help to transform existing opposing perceptions hopefully leading to a common sense of political responsibility to solve the conflict at hand. In order to achieve such understanding the dialogue between the conflicting parties has to start with all forms of communications being free and accessible to all.

    The international community is called upon to positively support that process of deliberation and political dialogue. The Kurdish desire and struggle for equality, freedom and democracy should be recognised as such. It is misleading to label that struggle as terrorism or separatism. Such an approach obstructs a peaceful solution creating an atmosphere of exclusion and further conflict.

    A roadmap to peace which outlines the democratisation of Turkey is still missing. The conference emphasised the importance of such a roadmap for which all sections of society ought to be consulted. The involvement and participation of civil society is essential for creating understanding and lasting peace.

    Finally, the conference underlined the fact that those actors that are perceived to be part of the problem are at the same time indispensable part of the solution. Each side of the conflict has the right to define its own demands and freely choose its own representatives for future peace negotiations.

    Democratic Society Congress

    Translated by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
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