From November 9th – 12th I attended this year’s Hammamet Conference in Tunisia on “Building Peaceful and Inclusive Societies” as part of theEgyptian delegation . In my presentation “Reintegrating former Combatants: A Conflict Transformation Perspective” in the Panel on “Reintegration and Social Cohesion” I proposed an elicitive approach to conflict transformation that focuses on relational security and the different layers of conflict beyond the apparent episodes of violence, when addressing the complexities of current conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa.
Certainly the question of how to reintegrate former combatants into society (or not) is just one dimension of conflict transformation but it touches the essence of peace work, namely the question how conflicting actors are able to build relationships even in situations of extreme polarization. This process will require the patience and endurance of Generations.
Cohesion and reintegration
A society that is socially cohesive could be said to promote trust, reject exclusion and create a sense of belonging for all members. Many communities across North Africa and the UK are faced with the need to reintegrate former combatants, with the challenges that need brings to trust and social cohesion.
Globally, it is estimated that 40,000 foreign fighters from around 110 countries have gone to fight in Iraq and Syria. Justice and intelligence responses will be needed to address the issue of returnees, but these will need to be tempered by more community-led responses, particularly in the case of younger returnees. #HammametConfx