Readiness to Reconcile and Mental Health Amongst Victims of Human Rights Violations


Civil war, genocide, torture and other crimes against humanity shape the character of many countries and regions in the world. Over the years there has been an increase worldwide in the number of tribunals and reconciliation commissions being established for the purpose of resolving systematic human rights violations. These institutions are not only legal instruments but also aim to bring hostile conflicting parties closer together. Reconciliation is thereby considered to be the basis for a new beginning within society and has become a key concept for sustainable peace activities. Despite a growing interest in and support for reconciliation in post-conflict societies, little is known about how such individual reconciliation processes should be carried out in the context of human rights violations and individual victims actually benefit from reconciliation from reconciling with perpetrators.


The studies aim to examine the relationship between individual readiness to reconcile and mental health in victims of human rights violations. In a first step a questionnaire to assess individual readiness to reconcile was developed and empirically tested.

In a cross-sectional study the relationship between readiness to reconcile, mental health and trauma-specific aspects were analyzed regarding Kurdish refugees from Turkey.

A following study examined how war criminal tribunals can contribute to individual readiness to reconcile and mental health. For this study, victims of the former Pol-Pot Regime who applied as Civil Parties to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia - ECCC) were interviewed. These persons were interviewed shortly before the beginning of the trial and a second time shortly after the first sentence against Kaing Guek Eav alias "Duch".

Furthermore, victims of the armed conflict in Colombia were interviewed regarding their readiness to reconcile. All interviewees were internally displaced persons who participated in a program of land restitution.

Cooperation Partner

Free University Berlin
TPO Cambodia
Tierra y Vida Colombia
Bielefeld University


German Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Psychology Beyond Borders

Contact Partner

Dipl. Psych. Nadine Stammel
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