Reconciliation and peacekeeping

Reconciliation and peacekeeping

This hook explores how countries can resolve disputes peacefully and reconcile with each other after conflicts.


Dividing the pie by Trevor Lloyd, 1919

Dividing the pie by Trevor Lloyd, 1919. Alexander Turnbull Library. B-034-01


Reconciliation after war is often difficult. Nations that have fought against each other can find it hard to forgive the other side, and often the winning side takes control of the losing side or places its own allies as rulers of the losing side. Different perspectives of the conflict can make friendship difficult even after the dispute is resolved. 

The First World War ended with a very uneasy truce and punitive treaties. The cartoon above shows leaders from countries of the British Empire dividing huge monetary war reparations from Germany amongst themselves. The leaders shown are, from left to right, R. L. Bowden of Canada, L. Botha of South Africa, David Lloyd George of the United Kingdom, W. F. Massey of New Zealand, and W. M. Hughes of Australia. 

The tensions caused by treaties formed after the First World War were a major factor in how the Second World War was resolved, when the treaties made focused more on political stability. This enabled much greater reconciliation between the Axis and the Allied powers. Some people believe that this striving for peace led to some injustices occurring. For example, after the Second World War, the war crimes of Emperor Hirohito were covered up by American General Douglas MacArthur in order to secure political stability in Japan. 

The failure of the League of Nations to resolve 1920s and 30s conflicts such as those between Poland and Russia, Italy and Albania, and Manchuria and Japan, as well as to prevent the Second World War, led to the establishment of the United Nations. The United Nations exists to maintain international peace and security. Countries that are in conflict can seek help from the United Nations to settle disputes peacefully, for example, by going to the International Court of Justice.

Possible discussion questions 

What can we learn from the reconciliation, or lack of it, after the First World War to help us in international disputes today? 

How might the dual aims of peace and justice be met in international conflict resolution? 

What do you believe the League of Nations could have done to prevent some of the conflicts of the 1920s and 30s? 

How could the International Court of Justice better resolve international disputes? 

How should countries not involved in a conflict provide support for reconciliation and peacemaking? 

How well do you think the United Nations has worked in preventing recent conflicts? 

How are disputes arising from historical events resolved in New Zealand?

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