This appendix includes excerpts from the Kona Statement, which was prepared in Kona, Hawaii, in 1994 by a U.S.-led international team of scholars from the United States, Russia, and Eastern Europe. It served as an important basis for contributions by Valery Tishkov and other discussants during National Academy of Sciences–Russian Academy of Sciences meetings in 1999–2004 due to its continued relevance to developments within Russia and other former states of the Soviet Union for many years.
MANAGING ETHNIC CONFLICT
Ethnic or “national” identity and the struggle for ethnic self-determination have often played two quite different roles in modern history. They have been a major force in the decline of imperialism, totalitarianism, and enforced ideology and thus in the expansion of human rights and freedoms while being the basis for the recovery and strengthening of individual dignity. On the other hand, they have been the source of corrosive tensions and destructive conflicts, leading to the deaths of millions of people and to huge material losses, blocking economic and political reform, and serving as a justification for violations of human rights and the imposition of oppressive regimes....
For centuries, problems arose in places where migration and political change resulted in communities of minorities that had different ethnic identities or national traditions. The minority and majority communities
clashed over their relative access to natural resources; national wealth; social, political, and economic positions; and educational opportunities….
In the life of a multiethnic state, relations among its constituted communities may seem normal, and little or nothing is done to deal with the possibility of future conflict. Yet, constructive measures can be taken at this stage to prevent the eruption of such conflicts. The objective at this stage should be to foster inclusion and full citizenship for all. There should be an attempt to enlarge the participation of ethnic minorities in public decision-making so as to enhance their confidence that their rights are being respected and that they can rely on fair treatment by public authorities. Newly independent states should accept the “zero” variant of citizenship. All persons living on the territory of the state at the moment of its establishment are entitled to be full citizens. Electoral systems and political parties should be organized in ways that encourage ethnic coalitions.
Social and economic policies should seek to improve the conditions and status of groups that have been the victims of discrimination and to enlarge their opportunities, although experience in the United States and India suggests that “reverse discrimination” may be counterproductive….
The education system should be encouraged to include instruction about the fallacy and peril of ethnic prejudice and the duty of individuals to be alert to their own tendencies to engage in ethnic stereotyping. Special educational efforts should be directed to traditionally disadvantaged ethnic groups to improve their ability to define their own interests, responsibilities, and possibilities in the larger society and to assume positions of political and economic leadership at both local and national levels. Individuals and organizations in the mass media should be encouraged to assume responsibility for carefully investigating and verifying accounts of ethnic threats or confrontations before publicizing them. But efforts to outlaw the public expressions of ethnic prejudice are not always effective. Indeed, the trial of those charged with violating such statutes can sometimes give rise to heightened tensions….
There is no reason to assume that ethnic tensions will inevitably develop into overt hostilities; but it is all too common that they do, often resulting from neglect of the measures that could have been taken during the latency stage. The more obvious warning swings of these shifts are (a) increased accusation of wrongdoing by ethnic groups and references to ethnic stereotypes in public discussion and political discourse, (b) the appearance of rumors of atrocities supposedly perpetrated by one ethnic group or another, and (c) demands for extraordinary steps to benefit or “protect” the majority
or minority groups or to restrict the liberties of those believed to threaten these groups….
Privatization of the economies of the former communist countries has often contributed to ethnic tensions, because groups that make their living through trading can readily be perceived as profiting “illegitimately” from the market system and other aspects of economic reform. This has happened in Moscow and in Eastern Europe. These processes may then erupt in sporadic incidents of ethnic violence. At that point, the government must move promptly to maintain order and authority; and it must make clear its rejection of violence as a mode of political action, including violence by an element of the national majority or of a politically dominant minority….
The most immediate need is for strengthened measures to maintain public order. It is, of course, essential that these be seen as free of ethnic bias. An impartially commanded, highly disciplined, and ethnically mixed police force that is trained in techniques of crowd and riot control is vital. The police and customs authorities should closely monitor and control the movement of arms within the country, including those imported from abroad; and they should do whatever is possible to interdict the circulation of incendiary propaganda….
It is extremely important to foster accurate, unbiased information and communication, particularly in the mass media. A program should be in place to totally expose and discredit rumors. Journalists and editors should be aware of their ethical and professional responsibilities. Instant and severe reaction to calls for violence, ethnic libel, and other acts breaching the proper limits of free expression is essential, not only to do justice but to make it evident to the public that justice is being done. Inflammatory or libelous statements or claims should be promptly answered by public authorities….
At this stage, too, governments need to understand the international implications of their actions. Their countries’ ability to control, if not prevent, ethnic violence fundamentally affects the treatment they receive from international institutions and from the foreign investment community….
A first imperative is to stop any fighting, or at least control it in a politically sensitive way, with a view toward the ultimate achievement of a constructive outcome. The instigators of violent acts should be detained or arrested, or at any rate removed from the sites of conflict. The forces of order must be well disciplined and under effective political control. If local police are suspected of harboring technically biased sentiments, it may be useful to bring in non-local police forces. Responsible control of communications and taking into account the objectives of the mass media are very important.
Then, of course, mechanisms for obtaining cease-fires and initiating negotiation are essential. All the while, the influence of international business in supporting moderate forces should not be neglected, for the economy of any country is affected by the goodwill and the investment decisions of actors in the international business community….
Sooner or later, the conflict must end, and it will be necessary to reconstruct a civil order from the wreckage left by the ethnic struggle. The parties to the struggle must be reconciled and the claims of victory must be adjusted to the realities of the continued national functioning and the necessities of continued ethnic coexistence.…
Unfortunately, it is often true that the militias responsible for the violence are made into heroes and thereby reap political benefits. Whenever possible, international pressure should be exerted to prevent them from assuming national leadership in the post-conflict situation. Public debate should be encouraged with the aim of promoting positive change. The conflict should be de-dramatized, its events should not be allowed to become the “stuff” of sacred memory, and any concept of “blood revenge” should be denounced….
The goal should be to return the nation to an early stage with conflict contained. The possibility then exists that with proper steps—vigorously carried out and informed by experience—durable universally beneficial, peaceful relationships can be established among the nation’s diverse ethnic groups.