International Peace and Reconciliation Conference: Development of the Social Cohesion and Reconciliation (SCORE) Index

‘Cyprus 2015: research and dialogue for a sustainable future’, brought together 10 leading  peace and  reconciliation specialists from 6 different countries to develop the first ever ‘Social Cohesion and Reconciliation (SCORE) Index’. The SCORE Index is an innovative statistical tool that can measure and monitor over time changes in communities’ capacities for Social Cohesion and Reconciliation. To this end, the tool will assist decision makers in adapting  strategies and mobilise their resources more effectively in post-conflict environments.

To pursue development of the Index, ‘Cyprus 2015’ organized  a three-day workshop on ‘Social Cohesion and Reconciliation’, between 26th – 29th September 2012, and brought together the 10 experts, consisting of both academics and practitioners specialised on conflict transformation and reconciliation, working in Rwanda, South Africa, Northern Ireland, Serbia, USA and Israel. During the workshop, the experts shared their own experience in measuring reconciliation and creating similar indices in their respective countries. Workshop participants agreed to further collaboration in regards to sharing of knowledge and expertise, as well as taking part in a global network of partners that will be testing and using the SCORE index in their own region/context.

As a prelude to the workshop, ‘Cyprus 2015’ organised an international conference on ‘Peace and Reconciliation’, which took place on 26th September at Home 4 Cooperation, opposite Ledra Palace in the UN Buffer Zone. The conference attracted great interest from media, civil society, political parties as well as general public from both sides. The newly appointed US ambassador to Cyprus, Mr John M. Koenig, attended the conference and addressed the public with a short speech.

WHAT are the lessons learned from other post-conflict societies?

As one of the key note speakers at the conference, Dr. Naasson Munyandamutsa, who lost most of his family members during the genocide in Rwanda, highlighted that forgiveness is the key answer to heal the wounds of the past. “Even if you face the most terrible truth, it is not the end. It is up to us to choose what to forget and what to recall from our experiences” said Dr. Naasson. In a way, his remarkable speech brought up the fact that there has not been any significant discussion or any formal acknowledgement of the ‘reconciliation’ itself on both sides of the island until today. In other words, Cyprus has not only been a ‘frozen conflict’, but also has been subject to the same ‘frozen mindsets’.

At the policy making level, the event highlighted the fact that societal needs change over time and consequently the policies need to be flexible and adjust to these changes. Meanwhile, at the societal level, discussions during the workshops further illustrated that ‘capacity to tolerate multiple roles and differences’ is a crucial component of reconciliation. Essentially, reconciliation is all about respecting each other’s societal and cultural values, without necessarily having to assimilate them to our own.

WHAT are the next steps?

‘Cyprus 2015’ believes that the development of the SCORE Index would contribute directly towards peace-building by informing the reconciliation debate, and allowing for more appropriate actions to be taken in a particular society to help it heal its wounds.

In the long term, the SCORE Index seeks to expand in other post-conflict environments and identify factors which pose significant disruptions to the objective of inter-communal reconciliation and peace. Ultimately, the index seeks to set the agenda for the development of more scientific intervention strategies in the peace-making field.

'Cyprus 2015: research and dialogue for a sustainable future' (www.cyprus2015.org), launched in May 2009, was a peace-building project implemented by Interpeace (www.interpeace.org), and supported by UNDP’s initiative in Cyprus: Action for Cooperation and Trust (ACT). 'Cyprus 2015' has recently evolved into a peace-building think tank called 'Center for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development' (SeeD). In partnership with UNDP-ACT, and using novel “Participatory Polling” methodology, and now the “SCORE Index”, SeeD provides unique tools for effective and sustainable policy recommendations that inform the peace-building policy debate while ensuring citizen participation in, and ownership of, the peace process.

The SCORE Index is a joint project of UNDP’s Action for Cooperation and Trust in Cyprus (UNDP-ACT) and SeeD.