Centre for Research, Documentation and Publication

Dealing with the Past’ Core Values: Peace, Justice and Truth

Dealing with the Past’ three core values of peace, justice and truths, which help people forgive the past, do not rest easily together. Excessive concern with ensuring peace and security and avoiding a return to violence often come at the expense of truth and justice. After all, why should perpetrators reveal the full extent of their crimes if they will incriminate themselves for judicial punishment? We can identify three “ideal” approaches for dealing with the past:

  • Forget the past for the benefit of peace and security (sanctioned silence in the case of Kosovo).
  • Find and prosecute the perpetrators in the pursuit of justice
  • Acknowledge the suffering of the victims and record their stories so that their narrative may be known.


The Past

The past is not something fixed with an independent existence, a once-and-for-all set of events. The ‘past’ is the remembered past, and as such, it is something that is constructed and reproduced in a multitude of ways. In other words, what we refer to as the “past” is our historical memory a particular period of the past that is possible to hold.

From the perspective of conflict transformation people can have too much of the “wrong” type of memory. With such memories the pain of the past never dies and the “ill” memories are reproduced and transferred from one generation to the next, into a future that has already been determined.

Dealing with the past is important, particularly for societies, like Kosovo, emerging out of conflicts with legacies of human rights abuses. It is vital that Kosovo society manages to come to terms with their losses and is able to move forward to seek peace and justice.