New Policy Briefs on Dealing with the Past and on Improving Impact in Fragile Contexts


Some themes are recurring in our work: one is the need to find ways of working through a legacy of political and social violence in re-building a viable society. Another is the need to strengthen internal, institutional capacities of organisations and bureaucracies for achieving impact. Two new Berghof policy briefs present analysis and recommendations for policy actors on just these themes.

Policy Brief No. 06 (“Dealing with the Past: Supporting people-centred ‘working-through’ the legacies of violence”) examines good practice examples of people-centred work on dealing with the past, taking a closer look at grass-roots work in Northern Ireland, Israel-Palestine and Georgia/Abkhazia. It works through the commonalities and differences between transitional justice, reconciliation and dealing with the past. It puts emphasis on the dual roles of the victims and their potential in either escalating or de-escalating violent approaches to conflict. The brief’s recommendations highlight both horizontal and vertical relationships and spaces for engagement:

  • Principled governmental and institutional commitment should be expressed over the long term;
  • Local grass-roots communities should take the lead from the start;
  • Approaches and strategies should be mixed and combined to ensure that the psychological and the material, the political and the social, the private and the public are not de-linked;
  • Small group and individual work should be gradually linked up with social and collective work.

Policy Brief No. 07 (“US and German Civilian-led Efforts in Conflict and Fragile Contexts: Addressing Internal Challenges to Improve Impact”) takes a close look at the government responses of Germany and the United States to conflict and crises around the globe. It examines some of the internal challenges that inhibit both countries’ ability to implement conflict mitigation and prevention programmes and ultimately their ability to deliver effective foreign assistance abroad. The brief’s recommendations focus on four core obstacles that must be addressed if both nations want to improve their foreign assistance delivery and help to stabilise and transform conflict in fragile contexts:

  • Balancing responsiveness vs. prevention;
  • Supporting risk-taking in a risk-adverse environment;
  • Allocating resources to match the policy imperative;

The series “Berghof Policy Briefs” presents commentary on conflict-related political issues and events. The short online format focuses on policy recommendations for political decision-makers, opinion-formers and influential civil society actors.