Blog: Studies

The Truth Is Not Enough - Restorative Justice (course)

"Getting to the truth, including understanding the root causes of the dispute, and not how one convinced the members of the community of his or her innocence, as practiced in the conventional justice system is one of the main distinguishing features of the restorative justice system. The search for truth had more to do with lessons learnt, understanding the causes and advising the parties and community how to avoid in future similar problems." - Julena Jumbe

‘The Cooling of Hearts’: Community Truth-Telling in Northern Uganda (2012) - Ketty Anyeko et al.

The ultimate goal of mato oput is to restore relations between the offended clans, and thus truth-telling remains an integral part of the practice. It is a voluntary process that consists of a cooling-off period, after which representatives of the clans engage in shuttle diplomacy in order to collect confessions and establish the truth. This is followed by material compensation given to the clan that has suffered the death. The practice, which can last from months to decades, concludes with a ceremony and feast during which clan representatives share a drink made of sheep’s blood and roots from the bitter oput plant, symbolizing the washing away of bitterness between the clans.

that Acholi belief systems offer recourses to relief, conciliation and healing and, practically, mechanisms to facilitate truth-telling, acknowledgement and accountability.

Interview questions were written in English and translated into Acholi by independent professional translators. Each question was then translated back into English by translators to ensure linguistic consistency. Research officers were trained to use the same phrases and terms in the questions in order to maintain accuracy. The interviews were then given in Acholi, tape recorded, and translated into English by the research officers.

Massacres remain undocumented and, with the exception of Atiak, are generally not discussed in public for fear of retaliation by either the LRA or the Government of Uganda.

A truth-telling process involving the community that acknowledged harm done was considered by some respondents as essential for engaging the next generation in learning about what happened, and to help them become advocates for peace in the future. ‘It is important for such information to… be written down in a book so that…all the [younger] generations…know what happened and [they] avoid repeating the same mistakes that were made by their grandparents’, opined one grandmother. More urgently, people viewed the idea of a truth-telling process as necessary to prevent future conflicts between those who have returned from the LRA and other war-affected persons, a conflict potentially exacerbated by contending land claims.

A third reason persons wanted a truth-telling process was to obtain reparations, both symbolic and material. Respondents frequently cited that truth-telling was important, but not sufficient in bringing healing to the afflicted. They expressed the expectation and desire to be compensated for the deaths of their family members, both symbolically (through memorials and shrines, for example) and materially (culu kwor, compensation payment for death), to recompense for the loss of life.

Even me who lost someone, I cannot ask (LRA) to pay compensation, but he has to ask for forgiveness and he is forgiven’, explained one respondent. Others argued it was the Government of Uganda, for failing to protect the civilian population from LRA attacks, which should pay compensation

‘But it is the Government who is our father. Why can’t they compensate me?’

A final reason identified by respondents was the need to be able to move towards reconciliation. Respondents indicated that the policy of ‘forgiveness’under the Amnesty was critical to end the conflict. By embracing the spirit of forgiveness, the civilian population indicates to the rebels that it is willing and ready to reconcile with those who remain in the ‘bush’, thereby giving them confidence to return home where they will be accepted by the population. Forgiveness, therefore, is like an olive branch—awayforcivilianstoindicatetheirwillingnesstoreconcile.Itis not, however, the same as mato oput (reconciliation) which is a process involving truth-telling through mediation, acknowledgement, compensation and symbolic reconciliation. 26 As one elder explained: Forgiveness comes before mato oput.Mato oput is a ceremony that marks an end to every kind of anger that exists among the affected people. For the sake of this war I think you should forgive so that the abducted children come home and mato oput.

Truth-telling was imagined as a process wherein former LRA members, UPDF soldiers and communities would sit to discuss what happened, to explain why it happened and to identify, with the assistance of a mediator, a means of agreeing on compensation (which could be symbolic) and reconciliation (mato oput). It involves acknowledgement of what happened. ‘In Acholi culture, truth means being open and talking freely, confessing for the wrong committed against others. It also means acceptance for what you have done and agreeing to correct that wrong that has occurred’, 28 we were told. Indeed, the Amnesty Act does contain provisions to promote community-level reconciliation.

The truth is not enough. When the truth has been told and the perpetrator has accepted his mistake, then he must also fulfil cultural demands. He must go ahead to culo kwor and have mato oput so that there can be mato oput, because when oput has been drunk it washes away all the impurities. Truth-telling should be accompanied by mato oput, and then there will be no problem afterwards

Elders interviewed also emphasized the importance of ceremonies such as the cleansing of areas (for places like Atiak and Koch Goma, where people were massacred in large numbers and the bones of people still lie at large), the cleansing of individuals who killed during the conflict, and welcome home ceremonies (such as nyono tong gweno, 30 which has already been used in the re-integration of returnees):

If you kill a stranger in secret, or a wild animal in secret

Nyono tong gweno literally means, ‘stepping on the egg.’It is a ceremony meant to ritually purify persons who have returned home from an extended absence because of war, school, or other reasons

a series of interlinked processes of truth-telling

While respondents expressed a strong ‘need’for truth-telling, they also cautioned that such a process was inherently complicated by several inter-related factors, including the political climate of silence and fear in the country, and the complexity of victim–perpetrator identity at the community level. The following section discusses each in turn.

This fear is substantiated by the fact that both sides have been responsible for atrocities, and it is well known that civilians are often subject to violent retaliation if they are perceived to be cooperating with either party

I have a lot of fear of the barrel of a gun and as such I would prefer to protect my life other than think of complaining’.

Additionally, truth-telling may provoke revenge against perceived or real perpetrators who have been given amnesty and are now settled within local communities.

In at least one case (Koch Goma) returnees’public confessions led to revenge mob killings of the individuals. Two other cases identified by researchers were of former LRA rebels that desired to confess publicly (Anaka, Pajule), but their clan members, for their own protection, prevented the individuals from doing so.

Other respondents warned that unless there is a mechanism to ‘cool hearts’, then reminding people of the past may lead to renewed tensions and violent aggression within the camps.

Third, respondents fear that a truth- telling process would negatively affect the Amnesty and, at the time their responses were collected, the on-going peace process in Juba, South Sudan.

‘You see, in truth, we are pleading with these people to leave the bush and come back home. But if they get to hear that we are calling them back so that they can tell us the wrongs that they did, then they will not come back home’.

Researchers observed that where the Amnesty is a government policy, grassroots persons often fear speaking contrary to this policy in public; that is, elaborating on what forgiveness might entail—for fear of being accused of working against the Amnesty. For this reason, the respondents were asked whether or not a truth-telling process should take place within public or private forums. The results were mixed, revealing that while many Acholi desire a truth process and accountability for past events, they continue to live in a state of fear.

if truth was told in public, witnesses could corroborate or correct testimony provided by another person, and a more accurate truth could be arrived at

a public process would deter perpetrators from coming forward. Retaliation moreover, is a real threat, particularly as those who come forward may have no means to compensate others.

"I think if there is a truth process it should be in the open…But if there is some sensitive information that the leaders feel cannot be released to the public, then they should deal with it in secret. But I continue to emphasize the fact that something done in secret will never help the people. Telling the truth is good. It also helps to give teaching to the public."

"A truth process should start mediating truth-telling and forgiveness in private between the perpetrator and the victim. The perpetrators should be asked if they are ready to come out and confess and ask for forgiveness from the people they wronged. If they accept then they should be made to go and ask for forgiveness from these people. Then the victims will grant them forgiveness. If there is a need to bring the matter before the public, then it should be when the offender has refused to confess and ask for forgiveness. But if he is willing to confess to the victim he wronged, then it should be in private and few people should be involved."

"I feel that it is better if the truth is told in public because each one can tell us what they saw with their own eyes before everyone. But also on the other hand, it can be told privately if one fears to talk about what the soldiers and the Government did because they can follow you and kill you since they own guns. After privately hearing what everyone has to say, it can be integrated into one story and told in public as the community’s general view or one voice."

respondents generally thought that forcing a person to participate in a truth process was undesirable. One youth leader explained: ‘People should not be forced because they will say something just for the sake of saying it and pushing the process to continue’. 40 The vast majority of respondents (96%) believe that no one should be forced to participate in a truth process. Respondents emphasized the importance of allowing a perpetrator to take the time to volunteer to talk about his or her wrongdoing. Elders have a particularly important role in ‘gently’persuading perpetrators that it is in their best interest to discuss the truth. It was argued by elders that forcing one to confess results in false truths and insincerity, and distorts the process of reconciliation. A significant number of respondents in qualitative interviews also argued that the phenomenon of cen 41 compels most perpetrators to confess to a crime in order to avoid or stop sickness and death that result because of haunting. ‘When the LRA come home…[they] will be compelled to come out one by one. It could start with a sickness, and then offenders will confess to the relatives who will then bring the case to us’

heinous war is one in which victims and perpetrators are intermixed at the community level.

Some civilians became collaborators with the LRA or the Government, either for their own protection or to get some economic advantage.

often difficult to disentangle victim and perpetrator.

both parties to the conflict have inflicted grave atrocities on the civilian population.

The UN IDP camps were poorly protected and maintained. 47 For example, up to 40,000 children commuted from camps nightly to sleep in the relative safety of town centres to avoid LRA abduction because the UPDF was unable to protect them

According to a random survey of over 2,500 persons in displaced persons camps by the International Centre for Transitional Justice and the Human Rights Centre, 40% of respondents had been abducted by the rebel LRA, 45% had witnessed the killing of a family member and 23% had been physically mutilated at some point during the conflict (International Center for Transitional Justice and the Human Rights Center 2005).

Those who have been demobilized from the LRA are occasionally scapegoats for community problems, and some report name calling.

Given this strained context, community-level reconciliation between those who were abducted or forced to fight (or who felt they had no choice but to join an army or collude with one), those who went willingly and those who stood by is further complicated. How should a truth-telling mechanism differentiate its participants? What would it make of those perpetrators who chose to fight, versus those who were forced? How would culu kwor and mato oput apply to willing commanders, passive bystanders and war profiteers?

There is some evidence from previous truth commissions to suggest that a society might benefit more from non-criminal judicial methods when the lines between victims and perpetrators, collaborators and passive witnesses, profiteers and pragmatists are shady and indefinable. As Naomi Roht-Arriaza argues in her study of several truth commissions: ‘Non-judicial methods were better at dealing with the many shades of grey that characterize most conflicts. Trials divided the universe into a small group of guilty parties and an innocent majority, which was thereby cleansed of wrongdoing’ (Roht-Arriaza 2006, p. 4). For a truth-telling body to be meaningful and effective, it would therefore be important to distinguish those in high command responsible for crimes from those who were originally forced to commit atrocities and may or may not have continued willingly. It would be imperative that any mechanism delineate categories of crimes and assign appropriate jurisdictions to each of them. This would both satisfy the international legal community in its desires for specific crime accountabilities, as well as ensure that the truth-telling process remains meaningful and systematic.

they consider truth-telling to be a necessary but not sufficient component of the process of seeking mato oput. Truth-telling satiates certain needs (determining the whereabouts of a missing loved one, the reasons or causes of misfortune or violence), but does not constitute reconciliation; rather it is a component part of a larger process of mato oput defined along general principles and practices of truth, acknowledgement, compensation and ceremony. Hence respond- ents highlight the need for culu kwor, or compensation, including reference to material and symbolic reparations by the Government of Uganda, recognizing the national dimension of the conflict. Ceremonial practices such as cleansing rituals are also important to other respondents to the process of cooling hearts, and so some argued that closure was only possible through appeasement of the spirits of those who died unjustly. K. Anyeko et al.

justice and reconciliation processes are always and at once historically situated and informed by those who have the most at stake in the process.

A Comparative Analysis of Restorative Justice Practices in Africa (2018) - Julena Jumbe et al

Restoration takes many forms, such as compensation, reparation or apology, and helps mend broken relationships. This makes perfect sense because African peoples tend to live communally and abhorred anything that could strain relationships, disconnect an individual or family with the community, and paralyze their social relationships

it promotes healing and restores relationships between offenders, victims, and community much better than the western adversarial system.

Crucially, the retributive justice system and culture, unlike restorative justice paradigm, is more likely to get people into more trouble than getting out of trouble (Omale, 2006). Therefore, a restorative justice paradigm is ideal for Africa because it would reduce dependence on external aid, promote active participation by local communities, and would contribute to the development of African’s own system of dispute or conflict resolution.

when members of the community, sitting around the fireplace, and listening attentively to the parties, interrogated them and helped them get to the bottom of the problem and bring out the truth. Getting to the truth, including understanding the root causes of the dispute, and not how one convinced the members of the community of his or her innocence, as practiced in the conventional justice system is one of the main distinguishing features of the restorative justice system. The search for truth had more to do with lessons learnt, understanding the causes and advising the parties and community how to avoid in future similar problems (Ilomo, 2013).

[Doesn't really have anything to do with 'justice'] The offender, having told the truth, had to voluntarily confess or acknowledge responsibility for their words, actions, or failure to act that caused harm or injury to the victim and his or her family; he or she also had to show remorse for his or her acts. When the truth is known and acknowledged, and responsibility owned, reconciliation follows due course and the broken relationship is repaired and restored. Thus, reconciliation is at the centre of the restorative justice model and cannot happen before the offender, victim and members of the community hear them out and establish the truth.

[Pressure to do so] Indeed, if it happened that a victim of a crime or a conflict or dispute suffered further harm or suffering before mending the broken relationship through the restorative justice system because of the recalcitrant behaviour of the community member suspected to be in the wrong or is the offender, the community members cast the blame on the suspect; hence communities had to resolve conflicts quickly (Ilomo, 2013).

Councils of Elders to be sure that genuine reconciliation has been achieved after dispute mediation, both parties may be expected to eat from the same bowl,

required the involvement of all members of the community in frank and open discussions of either a particular wrong, problem, conflict or a set of issues or conflicts. Thus, the African communities’ mechanisms for handling conflicts allowed ordinary people to participate in and address or discuss disputes and crimes that affected them freely without interference from a centralized and far removed authority of a State. By contrast, however, in post-independence African countries, State organs now handle conflicts and disputes through an adversarial and retributive process, and especially in criminal justice. While these foreign processes of justice are not invidious per se

relied on the laws and the legal systems that their colonial masters introduced, but these alien systems have not helped them in solving

helps in maintaining the rule of law, assured and timely delivery of justice, and advances community’s economy.

western justice systems, arguing that the western justice systems were meant to be applied in their own countries

Nindorera states that women were not involved in decision making because by then it was tested and observed that they cannot keep secret which was and still is the requirement in any justice administration.

Failure to reintegrate offenders has been shown to result, in most cases, into recidivism.

State has ‘stolen’ conflict resolution capabilities from the community, i.e. the State has usurped the role that community justice systems used to play in resolving conflict and administering justice. He suggests that conflicts should be solved by the main stakeholders

fostered an environment that encouraged offenders to accept responsibility for their role in the genocide and sought forgiveness from their victims. The Gacaca processes are believed to have succeeded in disposing off close to two million cases in Rwanda.

do not bring healing to the parties involved even in cases where the offender is jailed; instead, offenders might believe that society owes them nothing

there is dialogue

unpacks the truth of what happened and why

truth does not always heal

no justice system is perfect or can be considered to be fair to everyone

parties are encouraged to reach mutually agreed decisions.

lobbying by the elite and the participation of the State in the process. These have weakened the working of the abunzi so much so that it is no longer the same approach as it used to be during the pre-colonial era.

reconciling the parties to the conflict

the payment of compensation was a sign of accepting responsibility but not meant to empty the pockets of the wrongdoer

the King or the Chief heard murder cases because he was believed to be the victim or the one who suffers the injury.

cattle to be paid and some are paid to him because one of his followers is gone.

not only expensive but also alien to them in many respects, especially its focus on the individual, at the expense of the larger community

everyone is his or her brother’s or sister’s keeper, whether stranger or not. Thus, within this Ubuntu philosophy, the end of justice must be to restore the wrong-doer to a status that enables him or her to value others and desist from harming

the whole community suffers and, therefore, instead of marginalizing the offender

increasing moral degeneration in the country

people no longer seeing one another as one community

Ubuntu philosophy, which, literally translated, means you become human because of other human beings (no man is an island). - I am who I am because of who we all are - You are a person because of other persons

and this truth helped bring inner peace

managed to uncover the truth of the matter that no courts of law could have.

healing comes after knowing the truth

to maintain relationships, which in essence

It is submitted that the increasing cases of land disputes in Kenya could be easily settled if the indigenous way of solving conflicts, were to be resorted to instead of the formal court procedures, which to this day remain alien and incomprehensible to most rural and even urban communities.

communal types of land ownership practiced in African communities; indeed, private land ownership in the form of leaseholds and freeholds is foreign to most communities in Kenya

where the family failed to handle, the clan leader had to, those of a serious nature were handled by council elders. Emphasis was on amicable settlement. Respected elders could speak and give a judgment on a case.

Justice administration was manned by council elders. Disputes were handled in public and anyone could attend and give their opinion on the matter. The disputants were normally required to bring a goat which was slaughtered, cooked and eaten at the time of delivering a judgment. Most litigations were concluded with compensation but for those who were habitual offenders in serious crimes were publicly killed


21st century women have equal rights

a member of one family had to be taken to the victim’s family as a compensation, this kind of a practice violates human rights and one could query how compensating a human being could bring restoration? But for them by that time was considered to be a good mechanism of ending conflicts.

lack of expertise in reintegration, community’s perception on resettlement of offenders because some community members attach stigma to ex-offenders.

leaders who are not fully in support

defused tensions

irrational because they are irrational to the people.

a mock trial of fighting, thereafter, they are separated.

The mixture is drunk by the conflicting parties as a sign that the bitterness that existed between them should not recur

. Conflicting parties readiness to talk and continue with the talk was one of the requirement

law represents the culture of the people in a particular community and the use of British laws in Nigeria reflected their own customs and not those of Nigerians hence they conclude that, the imported British law is not law in a real sense because it does not relate to the society concerned. Among

corruption, complexity, and delays, resulting in denial of justice to some community members, and especially the poor.

This situation, in which the poor bear the brunt of a corrupt criminal justice system, should not be entertained by any democratic country that believes in fairness and observance of rule of law.

a participatory process that allows the victim, offender, and the community to resolve a crime or conflict in a manner that assists the offender to reintegrate into the community.

In Nigeria, the Igbo, for example, had its own ways of resolving conflicts. In murder cases, for instance, the kinsmen of the person found guilty for killing another had to go to the victim’s kinsmen and ask for forgiveness. The victim’s kinsmen would demand for reparation, which may in most cases include demand for a replacement of the deceased by kin from the offender’s kinsfolk. If a man was murdered, the offender’s clan had to find another man to be given to the victim’s family and if it was a woman, then the offender’s clan had to find a woman to replace the murdered woman of the other clan. In situations where the offender’s kinsmen failed to pay the reparations due to the victim’s clan, then they were entitled to avenge for their deceased; often the victim’s clan would choose someone influential in the offender’s clan and murder him or her.

In case of accidental killings, the offender would be banished from the community for a special number of years while his house and other property had to be destroyed to appease the gods and ancestors of the land. Although it is reiterated that conflicts in the Igbo society were resolved in the spirit of brotherhood (Osagie, 2014), this paper differs on such a contention on the aspect of killing influential person in the community when the offender’s clan did not give away one of the members to replace the deceased because that would be unjust to an innocent clan member and the act of killing the other does not sit properly with the spirit of brother hood unless brotherhood denotes something different from ubuntu philosophy which literally translated mean you are a person because of other persons and believes on helping one another regardless of the gravity of the crime committed not an eye for an eye.

no legal system that develops out of the unknown

not inclined to taking matters to the courts of law

Under present conditions and challenges, Ghana’s prisons can hardly contribute towards changing the behaviour of offenders or provide them with the necessary training to equip them with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to make positive contribution

especially for minor offenses and for first time offenders, women and the aged in Ghana

finding out the truth, healing the effects of human rights violations and in the end building a nation


summoned the parties to the conflict, the chance was given for each to tell their part of story and thereafter a decision was made by the Kima. The decision was meant to unite the disputants and not to cause more enmity; it was imperative for the leaders to ensure that the offender pays compensation and ask for forgiveness. Once that was done, then the parties had to eat in the same bowl and where necessary danced together as a sign of total forgiveness and unity.

some African indigenous conflict mechanism were punitive and against human rights, the best part with the practices was the involvement of all parties and insistence on reparation, compensation, forgiveness and restoration of peace and harmony

Its use has been revived in most of the developed countries

repression and erosion of restorative justice systems

limited decision making to members of small elite

conquered territories

had grave misconceptions about Africans: that Africans had no laws because

oral form and stored in various media, such as proverbs and songs, they were laws which were effectively communicated to community members through these media and were thus easily observed at heart.

fluid and extremely adaptable by communities

conflicts are bound to occur in any community because people differ in what they believe and have different interests and needs

African leaders and people no longer care about the unique ways Africans resolved conflict

places the entire burden on the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offence for which he or she has been charged and the courts rely on the facts and evidence

confrontational and has often led to the wrongful convictions of innocent people, especially the poor

exacerbates the agony of victims, who as State witnesses, are subjected to brutal cross-examination, often calculated to break them down. The participatory restorative justice mechanisms of Africans, in contrast, offered both the victim and the offender the opportunity to reconcile and the truth-telling involved, offers them some sort of relief. Indeed, as Zehr point out that truth telling is beneficial to the stakeholders and brings understanding with regards to an offence

The loss of processes that could lead to total healing

cordial relationships in communities and making sacrifices for the well-being of others were highly valued. In western communities, by contrast, the individual’s rights and interests, over time came to trump those of family and community and the sense of sacrificing for the larger good have generally diminished.

healing cannot be found in courts of law with the involvement of police and other security agents and lawyers and judges and the victim and offender and their families becoming mere spectators. Moreover, communities

entire community had a role

ignores the local contexts in which the conflict arose.

Africans educated and socialized in western belief systems and life-styles have continued to denigrate their own culture.

not to declaration of

a new leaf or chapter is opened

those dissatisfied of the decision will continue to talk

any law that does not relate to the people is no law at all and when imposed on them, it is likely to fail.

inferior and barbaric

to develop our own legal order consistent with our culture and world view.


Any attempt to verbalize African native law suggests the use of legal terms which are alien or foreign

could lead to a misinterpretation

for the prosecution


instigating the delays either as a tactic to defeat the prosecution’s case or make more money off their clients

mishandle the evidence so much so that no court would convict on that evidence or drag their feet


huge backlog of cases in courts, which also results into overcrowding in African prisons

total disregard of the culture and legal order of the peoples they conquered

rehabilitating the offender and restoring broken trust

into a responsible member of the community.

involves State organs

considered deterrent

diminish the integrity of the victim and dignity of the offender and excludes the community

consider the system oppressive and hostile to their culture and world view.

esurgent interest in African justice mechanism is because of some of the negative attributes of the western adversarial system

is often deliberately ignored that human rights as a distinct normative criteria in the west evolved after the Second European war in 1948 but only gain currency in the 1970s (Moyn, 2010) But no community’s values are static

Conflict Resolution in the Extractives: A Consideration of Traditional Conflict Resolution Paradigm Post-Colonial Africa (2017) - Oyeniji, A. (jstor)

You Cannot Compare Apples to Oranges: Ubushingantahe vs. Criminal Justice (2010) - Josh Perry


Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (2010) - S. Moyn


Adapted excerpt:

The rule of law and transitional justice in conflict andpost-conflict societies (2004) UN Secretary General

The Injustice of Local Justice: Truth, Reconciliation, and Revenge in Rwanda in Rwanda (2008) - Jennie E. Burnet

‘Does the Truth Pass Across the Fire Without Burning?’ Locating the Short Circuit in Rwanda’s Gacaca Courts (2009) - Bert Ingelaere

Spirits and social reconstruction after mass violence: Rethinking transitional justice (2010) - Erin Baines


Want: Roht-Arriaza, Naomi (2006). The New Landscape of Transitional Justice



Building relationships with the other person. You understand better what they want and where they want to go, and you can discover some more. Negotiation does not have to viewed as a way of destroying or stressing out relationships.

You can build trust and demonstrate trustworthiness. If there's a disparity in power, leverage, information, AND you're dealing with a party what's gonna use that and take advantage you can leave the room feeling abused.

Having a good day, because you negotiated. Some days of negotiating you look forward to and are the best days. Others you dread.

Getting a good deal. Negotiating as a success means getting what you want for a price that's acceptable to you.

Become a trusted negotiator. Who has high character, competent, and empowered to make a decision. That is the right party for the other person to deal with.

Figure out the BATNA - best alternative to negotiation agreeing.

Get something out of it. If someone's shouting and threatening, you can get the high moral ground or at least information.

Inside negotiations are the toughest. They're the least forgiving. And the most important ones to lose.

You can get to a deeper level, when you know you're not going to agree. You can sit down with him and say OK here's where I think our conflict is coming. 'What would it take to develop a better relationship? What would it take to make this deal?'

Create a lasting agreement with some elasticity down the road, that doesn't terminate in a lawsuit six months later. A function of how how much trust you've developed.


Conflict Resolution


From 'Primates—A Natural Heritage of ConflictResolution' by Frans B. M. de Waal

Behavioral signs of anxiety have indeed been measured in aggressors, especially after conflict in high-quality relationships.These findings fit the prediction that aggression-induced anxiety concerns the social tie and suggest an interesting emotional mechanism: Conflict in valuable relation-ships induces greater anxiety, which in turn creates a greater need for calming PC con-tact with the opponent.

As a testimony to the effectiveness of these mechanisms, aggression can become quite common in close relationships without endangering them. Thus, not only do macaque mothers, daughters, and sisters show high levels of grooming and mutual support,they also frequently fight; in fact, they do so more often than unrelated females. This paradoxical finding can be explained by assuming that the more compatible or secure a relationship (38), the more the threshold for conflict can be lowered without posing a threat to that relationship. The same may apply to entire species, such as some conciliatory and tolerant macaques, which also exhibit high rates of mild aggression.These high rates may reflect the reduced cost associated with aggression in a society in which reconciliation is easy.

The only way to obtain popcorn would be for two monkeys to sit side by side at a dispenser, a procedure that attached significant benefits to their relationship. After this training, subjects showed a three times greater tendency to reconcile after an induced fight than subjects that had not been trained to cooperate.

Other options are avoidance of the adversary (common in hierarchical and territorial species) and the sharing of resources(common in tolerant species)

After having weighed the costs and benefits of each option,conflict may escalate to the point of aggression, after which there still is the option of undoing its damage by means of reconciliation, which option will be favored by parties with shared interests.

Cognitive prerequisites for reconciliation are minimal. It is essential that members of the species recognize each other individually and that participants in a fight remember their opponent’s identity. In addition, as seen above, reconciliation probably involves evaluation of the benefits derived from relation-ships: Appreciation of relationship value will prevent risky overtures (any rapprochement carries the possibility of renewed conflict) for little gain.

individuals sometimes adopt a control role,breaking up fights or systematically protecting the weak against the strong. At other times they intervene peacefully or try to calm down one of the participants. In species in which large males defend units of several females, such as Chinese golden monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellanae), the leading male may maintain harmony by interposing himself between female contestants while holding their hands, and stroking or grooming both of them.Triadic reconciliation.In macaques and vervets (Cercopithecus aethiops), relatives of the victim may seek contact with the opponent. For example, a mother may approach and groom the attacker of her daughter in what appears a reconciliation “on behalf ” of her offspring. Such third-party contacts seem to serve the relations between entire matrilines. Similarly, there exist field reports of intergroup reconciliations spear-headed by the alpha females of different monkey groups.Third-party mediation.In perhaps the most complex pattern, thus far known of chimpanzees only, a female acts as catalystby bringing male rivals together. After a fight between them, males may remain oriented toward each other, staying close, but without either one initiating an actual reunion. Fe-males have been observed to break the dead-lock by grooming one male, then the other,until she has brought the two of them together, after which she withdraws.

According to the relational model, aggressive behavior is one of several ways in which conflicts of interest can be settled. Other possible ways are tolerance (e.g., sharing of resources), or avoidance of confrontation (e.g.,by subordinates to dominants). If aggression does occur, it depends on the nature of the social relationship whether repair attempts will be made, or not. If there is a strong mutual interest in maintenance of the relationship, reconciliation is most likely. Parties negotiate the terms of their relationship by going through cycles of conflict and reconciliation.

Traditionally, cost-benefit analyses have started from the assumption that animals neither know nor need each other. Thus, the rarity of lethal aggression was attributed entirely to the physical deterrent posed by the opponent’s fighting abilities. In many social animals, however, both parties stand to lose if escalated fighting damages relationships.

Among preschoolers, two forms of conflict resolution have been noticed: peaceful associative outcomes,in which both opponents stay together and work things out on the spot, and friendly reunions between former opponents after temporary distancing. These two complementary forms of child reconciliation, ex-pressed in play invitations, body contacts,verbal apologies, object offers, self-ridicule,and the like, have been found to reduce aggression, decrease stress-related agitation(such as jumping up and down), and increase tolerance.

One of the single best predictors of peacemaking is positive contact between children before eruption of the conflict, suggesting a concern with the continuity and integrity of interactions with peers.

how friendship increases conciliatory tendency and how peacemaking skills are acquired through interaction with peers and siblings. An impoverished social environment (as in the homeless) deprives children of this essential aspect of socialization (68),causing deficits in conflict management and moral development.


The Peace Process

To review: Audio files on Northern Ireland Peace Process


The heart desires, but the body refuses

"The Heart Desires but the Body Refuses: Sexual Scripts, OlderMen’s Perceptions of Sexuality, and Implications for Their Mentaland Sexual Health" (2017) - Sylivia Karen, Rutagumirwa, and Ajay Bailey



They found that internalized sexual scripts were the main driver of youth’s vulnerability (i.e., prompted them into risky practices) because these scripts constitute masculinity as very fragile and in need of constant protection, making these male adolescents wary both of female partners who refused them sex and of sexual practices which offered little or no control and power over women (i.e., that raised suspicions about their manliness).

Memo: [2013-02-26 08:36:34]. Before I started data collection I struggled to imagine what my relationship to the participants would be. I asked myself whether they would be willing to open up to me. …I realized that, in order to be trusted by the participants, the personal characteristics of the interviewers, such as sense of humor, dress, and conduct would be more important in establishing rapport with and gaining the confidence of the participants than the age or sex of interviewer.

“…Aging is a painful thing for a man … when a man becomes old all the energy leaves him …the body refuses to respond to desires… the two of you (husband and wife) just stare at each other, the relationship changes… you start treating your wife as your sister! Ehe! A week passes, and another... even a month can pass without doing it (sex), you are afraid of trying, you may perform poorly…Eeh the body may betray you again…as a man you feel worthless… You fail again! …This is very stressful for a man… Your partner may think, ‘Maybe my husband is tired of me or he is running around’… The quarrel starts.” (MzeeMagari)

Specifically, the Jando model honors two forms of masculinity: the man as breadwinner/material provider and the man as a sexual actor. Participants claimed that a balance between these roles is equated with “ideal masculinity.”

men’s power lies in performance and potency,” “an ideal man is virile,” “a proper man is good in bed,” “going several sexual rounds makes a man,” “a man with sexual capacity earns respect,” “sexual potency is central to manhood,” “the level of respect a man receives depends on his sexual performance,” and “without good sex, money and wealth cannot satisfy a woman”.

Participants argued that although a man’s masculinity is demonstrated in part by his ability to provide for his family/wife, being a good provider does not give the man power or control over his woman/wife in both the social and the sexual realm if he is sexually weak.

Commonly participants said that their wives and societal norms set expectations that are quite high. However, most of the participants reported that they have lost their past sexual selves. Instead, they said they rely on “sexual nostalgia,” and they see their youth as a core reference point and ideal for healthy sexuality.

To be honest, impotence is the greatest annoyance in marital life, and it is even more embarrassing for polygamous men like me… The heart still desires but the body doesn’t allow…it is an embarrassment, for sure.

Most of the participants expressed concerns about being deemed an “incomplete or good-for-nothing” man who cannot perform well sexually or control his wife’s sexuality.

the majority of the participants—and especially those with a younger wife or a big age gap between themselves and their partner(s) (including those in polygamous marriages)—revealed that they were embarrassed by their performance issues within their marriage. Men’s superior power and dominance are embedded in characteristics such as having sexual prowess and virility, having sexual skills, being able to achieve an erection, and being able to go several sexual rounds.

These norms discourage men from asking or talking about their sexual weakness/problems. Thus, a man is encouraged to conceal his sexual weaknesses to protect his image as a powerful and proper man. Moreover, these norms deny older men the space to express their fears and anxieties because such behaviour is perceived as womanly and would call their manhood into question.

…to preserve your image you better avoid talking about it …”.

fears associated with silenced sexuality, many men use traditional herbs and home remedies to treat sexual problems rather than seeking out professional health care.

suicides: “Some because they perceived themselves as failures; others because they didn’t have support…Others had maybe lost their hope and their dignity. So they think it is better to die quickly than to die slowly!”

Crowell (2011) and Masters et al. (2013) who maintained that sexual scripts for male sexual behaviour are reduced to sexual performance metrics such as penetration, achieving erection, and going several sexual rounds/demonstrating sexual stamina.

These findings resonate with the argument put forward by Fracher and Kimmel (1995) that sexuality is a site for experiences of power.