Social repair in divided societies: Integrating a coexistence lens into transitional justice.

 This paper explores the importance of integrating a coexistence lens into transitional justice theory and practice. Transitional justice seeks to address a legacy of large-scale past abuses. In societies that have suffered from violent intergroup conflict, this legacy includes divided communities and widespread distrust and fear of the ‘other’. Transitional justice processes and mechanisms, however, are unlikely to repair intergroup relationships, transform communities or eliminate tensions in the absence of specific attention to promote coexistence. The field of coexistence provides a framework for thinking about intergroup relations and interdependence. Coexistence initiatives—such as dialogue facilitation, intergroup projects and associations aimed at achieving shared goals, and media campaigns designed to reframe the ‘other’—are essential to restoring trust, transforming perceptions and rebuilding relationships. Looking at countries that have experienced violent intergroup conflict, in particular Bosnia and Herzegovina, the paper provides examples of coexistence initiatives that have achieved successes in changing attitudes, repairing relationships and strengthening communities—and discusses their potential to contribute to transitional justice processes and mechanisms.

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