Dealing with the Past 2021

Tackling a history of gross human rights violations

Dealing With The Past
© forumZFD

Informationen zum Seminar



Among the most daunting challenges facing societies emerging from violent conflict is what to do with the gross violations of human rights committed during the conflict. History holds countless examples of societies that sought to ignore such atrocities only to be confronted by continual re-escalation. Long after a formal peace has been declared, victims especially may feel the impact of the war still raging – relentless in its demand for answers, in the damage caused, in the absence of acknowledgement, accountability, reparation, or even change. Dealing with the Past (DwP) comprises creative strategies capable of shifting this – it is about enabling social transformation and making comprehensive transition out of violence a reality.

The Organizing Tool for the seminar content is the Dealing with the Past Conceptual Framework, widely used in Germanophone Europe and in Germany’s multi- and bilateral cooperation abroad. Drawing on the Joinet-Orentlicher Principles, the Framework affirms four rights – the Right to Justice, the Right to Truth, the Right to Reparations, and Guarantees of Nonrecurrence – and sets them within a framework of conflict transformation. The training devotes a minimum of one full week to each of the four rights. It also introduces Conflict Transformation at the outset and then weaves it through the ensuing weeks, drawing on it as an access point to the complimentary fields of Restorative Justice and Reconciliation, as well as to civil society initiatives.


  • To expose trainees to the challenges to peace that ensue from an episode of mass violence in which gross violations of human rights (GVHRs) have occurred and to introduce the concept of Conflict Transformation.
  • To establish trainees’ fluency in basic DwP theory – to each of the four rights in the DwP Framework as well as to the concepts of Restorative Justice and Reconciliation – and to grow their sensitivity to strategic dilemmas, using both illustration of emblematic cases and comparative analyses across contexts.
  • To expose participants to examples of civil society facilitated DwP initiatives.
  • To enable each trainee to build a DwP strategy for one contemporary situation.

Key Concepts

  • Dealing with the Past
  • Transitional Justice
  • Justice
  • Right to Know / Right to Truth
  • Reparations
  • Guarantees of Nonrecurrence
  • Gross violations of human rights
  • Victims
  • Restorative Justice
  • Reconciliation


The Academy’s Dealing with the Past Toolkit forms the core reading and is complemented by a Resource List that is continually updated in response to trainee need.

Delivery of the content will entail the flipped classroom pedagogy, which here looks as follows:

  • Participants select a context on which to focus throughout the 7 weeks.
  • Trainer delivers a 40-min pre-recorded lecture using PowerPoint and Mentimeter in BBB on the coming week’s topic (available immediately after live session): intro to core concepts and theory; extensive historical illustration.
  • Participants write one-page response each week, applying learning to their chosen context.
  • Trainer responds in time for participants to prepare for live session.
  • The 90-min live session comprises a trainer-facilitated, peer discussion, each of which closes with all participants noting steps taken on their learning journey, using Miro.


Online Live Sessions: From 3 February 2021 to 24 March 2021; every Wednesday from 11.30 to 13h00 CET


  • Ahead of Webinar One: an image, poem or phrase.
  • Ahead of Webinars Two to Five: a one-page response to the week’s theme (Right to Justice, the Right to Know, the Right to Reparations, Guarantees of non-recurrence) applying it the contemporary DwP challenge they have chosen.
  • For the final week: A short Powerpoint presentation in which each participant use their weekly one-pagers as building blocks and puts them into a coherent framework that will constitute a strategy for DwP in the context they have chosen.

Total workload: 5 to 8 hours per week