Human Rights Dialogue: Integrating Human Rights and Peace Work

May 15, 2002


The war on terror in Afghanistan has raised awareness of the often divisive ethical decisions and tradeoffs local and international actors face in trying to establish peace and justice in conflict zones. In trouble spots across the globe today, from Northern Ireland to Sri Lanka, from Sierra Leone to Indonesia, human rights activists often have different perspectives and priorities than conflict resolution specialists and peace activists. Our Winter 2002 Human Rights Dialogue explores some of these tensions and offers suggestions for building more constructive relationships between the human rights and peace communities.

Table of Contents


Principle versus Pragmatism
Christine Bell argues that in the case of Northern Ireland the division between human rights and “community relations” groups reflects a fundamental disagreement over the root causes of the conflict. Mari Fitzduff responds.

Building Legitimacy and Trust
When the conflict is divided along ethnic lines, coordination of groups on the ground becomes all the more complicated, reports Jehan Perera. Alan Keenan and Jeevan Thiagarajah offer comments.

Taking the Reconciliatory Route
Ivana Vuco describes the need for flexible human rights strategies in the search for peace and justice in the fragile democracy of Nigeria. Bonny Ibhawoh weighs in on this and the following article.

Challenging Restorative Justice
Richard Wilson contends that the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission was not effective in creating a new culture of human rights. Vasuki Nesiah and Paul van Zyl provide a different perspective.

Averting Violations through Conflict Prevention
In an interview with Dialogue, Dayton Maxwell discusses imperatives for the international donor community.

Mainstreaming Human Rights
In an interview with Dialogue, Danilo Türk discusses the promise and challenge of integrating rights standards and practices into the UN's work in conflict prevention.

Managing Conflict, Promoting Human Rights
Based on the success of one South African NGO, Michelle Parlevliet finds that the resolution process is strengthened by an integrated approach.

Troubleshooting Differences
In her work at the Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution at Tufts, Ellen Lutz advocates collaboration, not convergence, between the two fields.

Readers' Responses

More Resources

• Check out our annotated links to helpful information on peace work and human rights.
• See also: links to college and university syllabi that make use of Human Rights Dialogue.