Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Reconciliation and Peace

In the era of globalization one country alone is not going to solve the many problems it will encounter, says Seunghoon Emilia Heo, who was in Korea recently to promote her book Reconciling Enemy States in Europe and Asia. Her reason for writing the book, she told The Peace Weekly, was to study the political science aspects of reconciliation, and the  concomitant humility and courage that inevitably are involved in any successful reconciliation. 

In the history of conflict, words such as coexistence, alliance, cooperation are often mentioned but the word reconciliation is rarely heard. There are those who believe, says Professor Heo, that the  absence of war is a sufficient reason for the existence of peace and reconciliation, the need for reconciliation not being seen as necessary, and is not as popular a topic of discussion today as is talk about global warming and terrorism.

However, without true reconciliation, Heo says, peace treaties are not going to generate friendly relations between nations. And ever present terrorism, natural disasters, multicultural and religious conflicts will also need to be addressed with everyone engaging in efforts of reconciliation.

Her book, a development of her doctoral dissertation at the graduate school of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, goes into detail about who is to reconcile and how this can best be accomplished between adversaries, showing the various aspects of reconciliation as they have been used both in Europe and North East Asia.

In a speech congratulating Heo on publishing her book, a professor at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies said, "In her book she treated the main subject of reconciliation between countries but also examined the multidimensional causes of conflict and the  cultural factors, race and religion. In doing so, you could sense her commitment and religious faith."

Professor Heo graduated from Seoul National University, went to France for her masters and to Switzerland for her doctorate. She is now a professor at the United Nation University in Japan, teaching and doing research. Rebuilding relationships between enemy states is not easy, but the professor has given us some insights on what  can be accomplished  by efforts of reconciliation. Hopefully, world leaders will ponder her message.


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