This article explores the micro-dynamics of intragroup betrayal and self-betrayal that can be evoked by relational peacebuilding between groups. The painful accusation of betrayal by close, family-type group members and internally feeling like a betrayer as a result of working with the ‘other side’ is presented as an underestimated human cost of relational peacebuilding. This understanding emerged from an international ‘Beyond Dehumanisation’ research project, which included experienced peace practitioners from South Africa, the Israel-Palestine region and the conflict in and about Northern Ireland. The emerging diagnostic framework is supported by (and provides empirical support for) theories of betrayal that stress how deeply relational betrayal is. The resonance with Margalit’s theory of betrayal as the ‘undermining of thick relations’ is especially strong. ‘Peace as betrayal’ suggests the need for more practical support for peacebuilders and can also be applied more widely to render resistance to transitional justice processes more visible.
- human cost
- intragroup peacebuilding
- resistance to transitional justice