It was the 7105th meeting of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday 29th January 2014 that marked the UNSC’s first open discussion of shared narratives and reconciliation.
In the course of the four hour meeting UNSC delegates were invited to discuss the relationship between shared narratives and sustained peace, paying particular attention to “sectarian, or ethnic, conflicts, as well as wars driven by extreme nationalism or ideologies.”
Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations, placed the topic on the agenda with his letter and concept note titled “War, its lessons and the search for a permanent peace”.
In the letter, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein stresses that the United Nations has failed to understand “how it can help forge a deeper reconciliation among ex-combatants and their peoples based on an agreed or shared narrative, a shared memory, of a troubled past.” Throughout the meeting participants were encouraged to consider the risks of an alternative “shallow peace” that lacks solid foundations if the proper to steps to reconciliation are not taken.
That is, if we continue to subordinate “memory” to political arrangements, security sector reform and early economic recovery, among other things, and not elevate it to a higher order of importance, do we not risk, for example, maintaining situations where all we have is a deceptive, shallow peace, or the absence of fighting masquerading as peace, rather than sustainable peace with secure foundations?
In response, the representative from Malaysia, Mr. Haniff, alerted to the IHJR and our publication “Zoom In: Palestinian Refugees of 1948, Remembrances”,
In that regard, my delegation takes note of the work of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation, an institution that we believe has benefited greatly from your personal participation, Mr. President. The Institute’s publication Zoom In: Palestinian Refugees of 1948, Remembrances portrays the striking differences in which Palestinian and Israeli youth views photographs from the 1948 Nakbah. The publication demonstrates the need for greater understanding and a common history of the incident, the consequences of which resound to this very day.
The IHJR welcomes the Jordanian Presidency’s call on the Security Council to “think differently and figure out how best to work those very physical arrangements to end the actual fighting to achieve authentic, irreversible peace, reinforced by a shared historical understanding of the prior conflict.”