Procedures for Achieving Reconciliation and Democratic Peace in Highly Divided Societies


States and societies that have experienced violent conflict and civil war face a double challenge in their endeavour to achieve a peaceful and stable state. First, they have to reconcile the (ethnic or religious) groups, which constitute the warring parties, and to overcome the traumatizing hatred that has arisen from the violence. Second, they have to develop political and economic institutions enabling them to include all factions and to warrant equal opportunities of political and economic participation. These new rules have to be found within conflict resolution procedures during the post-conflict phase. As the forms of ethnic (or other) divisions and the forms of violence vary widely across failed states, there are no ready made solutions available that are applicable in all contexts.

The project pursues two inter-connected goals: The first aim is to find out (a) which political institutions will be chosen by a society characterized by a given form of ethnic division (fragmentation, polarization, dominance, spatial concentration) in a common process of constitution-building and (b) which procedures are selected to achieve reconciliation (focussing e.g. on truth, justice, amnesty) given certain kinds of violence (repression, genocide, …). The second aim of the study is to find out (c) which properties (representation, decision rule, third parties) conflict management procedures should have in order to enable the parties to arrive at peace and stable institutions.

The project uses an experimental design. The experiments consist of role simulations of conflict resolution bodies which have the task to develop (a) political institutions or (b) a concept for reconciliation processes to be used in the post-conflict period. The experimental treatments include (a) the various forms of ethnic division and (b) the forms of violence experienced. Dependent variables are the political institutions and the reconciliation concepts drafted by the experimental groups. Moreover, the effects of different procedural properties (c) on the results achieved will be tested.

  • Department of Politics and Public Administration
Funding sources
Name Finanzierungstyp Kategorie Project no.
Exzellenzinitiative third-party funds research funding program 627/08
Further information
Period: 01.06.2008 – 31.05.2010