"More Than Victims and Combatants"

Ljubinka Petrovic-Ziemer’s recommendations for a new German strategy for dealing with the past and transitional justice

Next year, the German government wants to develop a new strategy for dealing with the past and transitional justice. In her article “There Are More Than Victims and Combatants” on the PeaceLab blog, Dr. Ljubinka Petrovic-Ziemer, Head of the Academy for Conflict Transformation of forumZFD, explains how the German government could support processes of dealing with the past and transitional justice.

Aktivisten vor einem Regierungsgebäude in Belgrade, vor
© forumZFD/Nataša Govedarica

She recommends promoting the cooperation between judicial experts and civil society actors. “In transitional justice contexts, court verdicts often do not enjoy universal acceptance”. Together they can better explain court judgements and their meaning to the public. This can be especially important in divided societies to prevent further polarization.

According to Petrovic-Ziemer, transitional justice processes should not exclusively focus on victims and perpetrators, but should include the whole of society. She therefore recommends to engage the broader public in the new dealing-with-the-past-strategy through art and public history. Using public history allows a wide range of public actors beyond the academic settings to produce historical knowledge, which can help societies move away from “instrumentalized and ideologically biased ways of using the past”.

Lastly, Ljubinka Petrovic-Ziemer recommends involving the diasporic communities in Germany. Since they often continue to support their native communities and countries, they could become important partners in Germany’s new strategy for dealing with the past and transitional justice. 

Read Ljubinka Petrovic-Ziemer's full article on the PeaceLab blog.