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Program

Reporting on post-conflict societies and frozen conflicts

Hosted by Robert Bosch Stiftung

Media coverage often wanes when hostilities subside or when new conflicts flare up elsewhere. In such cases, the transition process that takes place in the wake of armed conflict rarely receives the attention it deserves.

Transitional justice is an important part of dealing with the past immediately following the resolution of an armed conflict. Its aim is to come to terms with a past defined by violent disputes or regimes to enable the transition to a sustainably peaceful social order. Post-conflict societies are particularly fragile during this phase, in which decisions must be made about how to deal with former offenders and their victims. A social process involving the largest possible number of stakeholders is key to creating lasting peace in a society.

Journalists have an important role and bear special responsibility. They respond to social trends and through their reporting significantly shape public opinion, such as concerning war crimes. They can present complex situations in an easily understandable way to a wide audience, but also run the risk of being instrumentalized for propaganda purposes by one of the conflict’s participants or of intensifying existing tensions through careless reporting.

The delineation between post-conflict societies and those still in the throes of conflict is increasingly being questioned, and cyclical portrayals of the course of a conflict are more realistic than linear approaches to conflict resolution.

Over time, media consumers tend to lose interest in frozen conflicts. But, a number of recent examples demonstrate that frozen conflicts can reignite from one moment to the next, and without sustainable conflict management and conscientious media coverage, they can quickly flare up again.

How can frozen conflicts be dealt with journalistically and how can the media help to ensure that balanced investigative reporting is not replaced by bilateral propaganda?

Journalists are frequently subjected to two contradictory criticisms: on the one hand they are expected to monitor conflicts, and their processes of transformation, that are no longer the focus of public attention; on the other hand, they are accused of stoking the fires of such conflicts and keeping them alive. Every journalist reporting from post-conflict societies experiences this dilemma.

The Robert Bosch Foundation welcomes you to join this session to explore these and other matters related to reporting on post-conflict societies and frozen conflicts.

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