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Historical Memories and Transitional Justice

Plenary / Panel
english language


Founding Director, IHJR - Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation; Professor, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, New York Abstract
Q: How can we prevent historical conflicts from turning into »chronic diseases« and avoid that,after a regime change, victims and perpetrators simply swap roles?
The role of historical memory is critical to resolving conflicts, yet it is too rarely involved as a mechanism in negotiations and conflict resolution. Historical memory expresses the root causes and can contribute to post conflict rebuilding of societies, through reconciliation and avoiding a repeated conflict. While the importance of legal accountability when possible is enormous, and is critical both for punishing exceptional perpetrators and signaling the return of a rule of law to society, historical memory goes beyond the legal and judicial mechanism of societies in transition. Legal redress even in the best of cases is inadequate. Judicial processes address individual responsibility and are limited by due process and procedural requirements. There are many aspects of the violent past that are not subject to judicial adjudication or even inquiry. The goal of historical redress as a conflict resolution mechanism is to add, not replace, legal mechanisms, and to engage stakeholders, primarily civil society, in the process of acknowledging the past, redressing when feasible, and acknowledging the violence and the responsibility for it.
Executive Director, European Fund for the Balkans, Belgrade
Executive Director, Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in South East Europe, Thessaloniki Abstract
Justice, whether Transitional or any other one, has to be based on something, has to have a set of premises, a set of facts upon which we are basing our quest for the righting of wrongs . Are Historical Memories the right basis? Can we trust the Historical Memories to be the truth, the full truth and nothing but the truth? In his opening statement, Nenad Sebek will try to deconstruct the term of  Historical Memory and question the reliability of this basis for Justice.
Professor, Department of Contemporary History, University of Vienna Chair

Dr. Elazar BARKAN

Founding Director, IHJR - Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation; Professor, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, New York

 Elazar Barkan is a Professor of International and Public Affairs and the Director of the Human Rights Concentration at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs. He was the founding director of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation (IHJR) in The Hague. Professor Barkan served on ISHR's board of directors before becoming ISHR's co-director in 2007 and director in 2008. Previously, Professor Barkan served as chair of the History Department and the Cultural Studies Department at the Claremont Graduate University, where he was the founding director of the Humanities Center. Professor Barkan is a historian by training and received his PhD from Brandeis University. His research interests focus on human rights and on the role of history in contemporary society and politics and the response to gross historical crimes and injustices. His human rights work seeks to achieve conflict resolution and reconciliation by bringing scholars from two or more sides of a conflict together and employing historical methodology to create shared narratives across political divides. A recent pertinent article: "Historians and Historical Reconciliation", (AHR Forum) American Historical Review, (October 2009). Professor Barkan's other current research interests include refugee repatriation, comparative analysis of historical commissions, shared sacred sites, and the question of human rights impact, specifically with regard to redress and transitional justice.


Executive Director, European Fund for the Balkans, Belgrade

 Hedvig Morvai-Horvat is the Executive Director of the European Fund for the Balkans, an initiative of a number of European foundations including the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the King Baudouin Foundation, the Compagnia di San Paolo and the ERSTE Foundation. The Fund is designed to help European foundations to become more actively involved in the Western Balkans and to prepare the countries of the region for their future in the EU.
 Prior to this, she was director of the Citizens Pact for South Eastern Europe, a regional initiative focused on cross border and regional cooperation of local communities and NGOs in SEE. She began her civil activism in 1997, as a founder and vice president of the Hungarian Student Association of Vojvodina. She was associated to various Serbian non-governmental organizations as the Student Union of Serbia and the Novi Sad based Center for Multiculturalism, she was coordinating the Carpathian Information Exchange Network - AGORA, later the Novi Sad office of Partnership for Democratic Changes and she was engaged in the EXIT Festival team.
 She studied law in Novi Sad and Belgrade and followed numerous courses and alternative education programmes. She is an alumna of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence in the scope of the CoE Network of Schools for Political Studies.
 She is advisory board member of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, of the State of Exit Foundation and member of the Epos Network.


Executive Director, Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in South East Europe, Thessaloniki

1975-1986 Journalist, presenter and editor, Radio Belgrade
1986-1991, 1994 Producer, Senior Producer in Yugoslav (later South Slavonic) BBC World Service
1992-1993 Special Reporter for the former Yugoslavia BBC World Service
1995 News Producer, BBC World Service Newsroom
1996-1999 South East European Correspondent, based in Zagreb then Belgrade, "The World"
1998-1999 Director of Media Focus, a media monitoring project funded by the EU and the UK government covering the main media in Belgrade, Pristina, Podgorica and Novi Sad, IWPR (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)
1999-2002 Moscow Correspondent, The World (A co-production of the BBC World Service, WGBH and PRI)
2004-2007 Adjunct Assistant Professor in Politics and Journalism, ACT (American College of Thessaloniki)
since 2007 Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe, Thessaloniki

Mag. DDr. Oliver RATHKOLB

Professor, Department of Contemporary History, University of Vienna

1985-2004 Research Director, Bruno Kreisky Archives, Vienna
1992-2004 Research Co-ordinator, Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue, Vienna
1994-2004 Co-director, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for History and Society, Vienna
2000-2001 Schumpeter-Fellow, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
2003 Visiting Professor, Department of History, University of Chicago
2005-2008 Director, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of European History and Public Spheres, Vienna
2008-2012 Head, Department of Contemporary History, Faculty of Historical and Cultural Studies, University of Vienna

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