Cultural Heritage that Heals: Factoring in Cultural Heritage Discourses in the Syrian Peacebuilding Process
The Historic Environment: Policy & Practice (vol. 7) (nos.2-3) 2016: pp. 151-162
Posted: 12 Apr 2016
Date Written: April 1, 2016
Transitional justice is considered a building block of peace building in post-conflict scenarios. Processes may include criminal justice mechanisms, reparation programmes, truth-seeking bodies and institutional reforms which seek to provide redress for victims of human rights atrocities. However, it is now widely acknowledged that the destruction of cultural heritage plays a significant role in and of itself in modern conflicts, affecting entire societies, as it is linked to the destruction of group identity, and can even prolong violence in the post-conflict period. The loss of cultural heritage has been devastating in the ongoing civil war in Syria, most notably in World Heritage sites. Despite this, discussions of potential peace building methods and ideas for transitional justice programmes in Syria have failed to incorporate it. This paper argues that cultural heritage should be included in such work in its own right, and suggests ways this could be accomplished to encourage greater awareness of Syria’s cultural diversity, and the understanding and healing that can bring.
Keywords: Conflict, cultural heritage, destruction, peacebuilding, Syria, transitional justice, World Heritage
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