Understanding Reconciliation as A Way of Peacebuilding: The Case of Chittagong Hill Tracts


Many of the peace agreements that had been signed by belligerents since the end of the cold war did not last long. Despite the large-scale involvement of various agencies including states in peacebuilding efforts war has not always been succeeded by peace but by intermittent violence and persistent mistrust. One possible explanation for this is too much emphasis on institution building and infrastructure development at the cost of giving the victims a sense of justice and recognition in the peacebuilding processes. This pattern is noticeable in many peace support operations around the globe in recent years. The discussion in this paper centres on understandings of post conflict peacebuilding in the contemporary practices and literature. The argument forwarded is that peacebuilding efforts run the risk of becoming counterproductive unless reconciliation between the former combatants is achieved. The case in hand is the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region in Bangladesh where an armed conflict between the government and the insurgents fighting for autonomy since the mid 1970s came to an end with signing of an agreement in 1997 that has so far failed to deliver the intended peace. The paper argues that unless appropriate measures are taken to redress the scars of past atrocities by giving the victims a sense of justice, which is conspicuously absent in case of CHT, efforts at building peace are likely to be futile.

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