Nobel Peace Prize Recognizes Key Role of Tunisia’s Civil Society in Country’s Transition


NEW YORK, October 9, 2015 — The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) welcomes the award of the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize to Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet for helping the country transition to democracy. With the award, the Nobel committee acknowledges the "decisive contribution" made by the group of civil society organizations after Tunisia’s 2011 revolution.

“The energy and courage of the civil society, of the people of Tunisia were absolutely key to the tectonic changes this country has seen, to its effort to address the past abuse and move the country forward,” said David Tolbert, president of ICTJ. “At the same time, this is a recognition of civil society’s crucial role in reckoning with legacies of massive human rights abuse in all corners of the world, as it is these active social forces who are at the forefront of the struggle for truth and justice everywhere.”

ICTJ has always recognized that civil society organizations, including victims’ groups, have played a critical role in fostering social change in Tunisia — before, during, and after the revolution. It was they who steered the only successful transition to democracy in the region.

According to a recent ICTJ paper, Tunisian civil society groups have helped to raise awareness about transitional justice and advocated and lobbied for transitional justice measures as a cornerstone of a successful transition. They made a significant contribution to the 2012 National Transitional Justice Consultation Process, with a number of groups helping to supervise the national dialogue and write a first draft of Tunisia’s historic Transitional Justice Law.

Yet today, we can see that Tunisian civil society groups are being marginalized from the post-revolutionary transition.

“While the peace prize affords welcomed international recognition of civil society’s important role in helping to bring peace and stability to Tunisia, it also reminds us that this role needs to be recognized by the Tunisian government,” remarked Tolbert.

In the new paper, ICTJ calls on the government to “establish opportunities for meaningful participation of victims and civil society in crafting and implementing transitional justice policies, and ensure transparency in the process.”

In particular, it calls for the national Truth and Dignity Commission to strengthen its relationships with civil society groups as natural partners, in order to capitalize on this historic opportunity to reveal the truth about Tunisia’s past and make a firm contribution to the country’s future.


Refik Hodzic, ICTJ Director of Communications E-mail: Tel: +1 917-637-3853

The Right to Reparations in Tunisia's Marginalized South

In 2013, ICTJ’s Reparative Justice Program convened a series of dialogues in Tunis and in two cities in the interior, Tozeur and Tataouine (with the participation of people from all the nearby governorates in the region, including Kasserine, Sidi Bouzid, Sfax, Gafsa, Medenine, and Gabes), to facilitate discussions between government, civil society (including the Tunisian trade union UGTT) and representatives of communities in the region that see themselves as both victims of political repression and economic and social marginalization. Some existing individualized measures clearly respond to violations experienced by those who were detained, tortured, forced into exile or otherwise suffered religious or political persecution. However, the communities of Tunisia’s interior regions whose historical economic and social marginalization and the young, unemployed citizens across the country who sought jobs, dignity and the dictatorship’s overthrow in 2011 are still waiting for the kind of reparations measures that will address these larger grievances. In between sessions of these dialogues, we talked with Tunisians from the interior regions, who shared their experiences during the dictatorship, their reflections on marginalization, and their expectations about reparations.

**Watch Part 2 here.**

PHOTO: Tunisian citizens protest against the regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. (Kyodo via AP Images)