Reconstructing a Country: How Post-Conflict Societies Find Ways for a New Beginning

The ongoing violent conflicts in the Middle East and in other parts of the world have resulted in destruction, migratory flows and large-scale destabilization of entire regions. Will a new beginning be possible in this extremely polarized region? Can new forms of functioning statehood arise? Which types of international reconstruction aid can stimulate successful recovery processes in the Middle East? The KAAD seminar “Reconstructing a Country: How Post-Conflict Societies Find Ways for a New Beginning” that took place from 4th to 7th August 2016 focused precisely on those questions (Moderation: Dr. Christina Pfestroff/ Spiritual Guidance: Fr. Dr. Thomas Eggensberger). 31 scholars from KAAD, the Cusanuswerk and the theological scholarship program Albertus Magnus took part in the event. 

Dr. Bruno Schoch from the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, who has been conducting intense research on Kosovo as well as on other conflict regions, explained the steps to be taken during the transition from armed conflict to more democratization. He also stressed that stopping violence is the first and most important precondition for starting a transition process.

Anna Mühlhausen from the University of Magdeburg addressed the issue of deradicalization of terrorist groups and the chances for reconciliation in the aftermath of terrorist violence. She elaborated on the notion of reconciliation and the concept of transitional justice as a way of coming to terms with collective crimes committed in the past. Ms. Mühlhausen also explained various methods of negotiating and conflict management aimed at deradicalization and disengagement from terrorism.

Although various seminar components also dealt with conflict regions outside the Middle East, a special seminar block was dedicated to provide insights into the current situation in Syria. A discussion on the topic “Negotiated Peace in Syria?” focused on the UN-facilitated Syria Talks in Geneva and was led by the diplomat and Middle East expert Katharina Lack, Special Assistant to the Director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

Taking a look into the future, the KAAD scholars Yara Moualla and Sana Kassouha presented their research interests: the preservation of intangible cultural heritage and its importance for the cultural identity and various strategies for reconstructing war-ravaged cities such as the Syrian city of Homs.

Visit to the KfW (“Reconstruction Credit Institute”)

Tour through Berlin

Various restoration strategies were visualized during a reconstruction-focused tour through Berlin. It ended with a visit to the historical premises of the German development bank KfW (“Reconstruction Credit Institute”) situated in the pre-World War II bank district of Berlin.