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Yemen's nine-year conflict has devastated the country and created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The regional upheaval stemming from the ongoing war on Gaza has created more obstacles on the country's already complex path toward peace and shifted attention away from the set of UN-brokered commitments agreed upon by the parties to the conflict in December 2023, which include a nationwide ceasefire. Amid these challenges, it is more imperative than ever to support civil society and victims and bring attention to victims’ grievances and needs.

The Arabic word “Zyara” means “visit” in English. The Zyara documentary series takes an innovative, deeply personal approach to storytelling with a view to nurturing collective social and emotional healing. Through candid encounters, it paints poetic portraits of four Yemenis refugees living in Oman, including a human rights lawyer and activist, a restaurant worker, a martial arts champion, and a businessman. By telling their stories and celebrating the resilient spirit of the Yemeni people, the Zyara project seeks to raise awareness and preserve truth and memory.

Throughout 2023, ICTJ’s experts have offered their unique perspective on breaking news around the globe as part of the World Report. Their insightful commentaries have brought into focus the impact these events have on victims of human right violations as well as larger struggles for peace and justice. In this edition, we look back on the past year through the Expert’s Choice column.

On October 25, the African Union (AU) and European Union officially launched their joint Initiative for Transitional Justice in Africa (ITJA) in Addis Ababa. The project will take place over a three-year period and will promote national transitional justice processes in Africa, in line with the AU Transitional Justice Policy and its roadmap. The ITJA has several unique features that, if embraced and advanced by all actors, have the potential to trailblaze a new and inspiring path to peace, justice, and sustainable development on the African continent.

On October 15, the UN Secretary-General made two strong humanitarian appeals: for Hamas to release the hostages immediately and without conditions, and for Israel to allow humanitarian aid to enter into Gaza unimpeded so it can reach the civilians desperately in need of it. The UN Security Council has heard but not listened to his words, while governments with power to persuade the actors engaged in the hostilities to respect the rule of law have failed to do so. Yet, the moral imperative is clear and simple.

On October 7, the world watched in horror as members of the militant group Hamas slaughtered over 1,400 Israelis, most of whom were civilians including children and the elderly, in a premeditated and sophisticated attack. Israel’s response has so far been no less horrific. Incessant waves of indiscriminate airstrikes on Gaza have hit residential buildings, medical facilities, and other critical civilian infrastructure, besieging the entire enclave and leaving more than 5,000 people dead including 2,000 children. Unfortunately, these unspeakable atrocities—the condemnation and rejection for which we have run out of words—are not isolated events happening in a vacuum. They are, in fact, just the latest episodes in a 75-yearlong cycle of violence.

The African Union and the European Union have officially launched a three-year project to support AU member states as they incorporate the African Union Transitional Justice Policy and undertake transitional justice processes at the national level. The project, named the Initiative for Transitional Justice in Africa, will be implemented by a consortium of three organizations led by the International Center for Transitional Justice, the African Transitional Justice Legacy Fund, and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Five years ago, in August 2018, to mark his 100 days in office, Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan addressed a large rally in Yerevan’s Republic Square to officially announce his government’s intentions to incorporate transitional justice mechanisms into Armenian post-revolution reform agenda. Since then, Armenia has been pursuing a range of transitional justice initiatives alongside other democratic reforms, and it has made some limited headway, despite setbacks and major challenges including renewed conflict with Azerbaijan.

The photography exhibition “All Our Tears” weaves together the stories of victims from the wars in the Western Balkan region in the 1990s. It consists of photographs taken by four photographers in various locations in Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Serbia, and was part of a three-year project funded by the European Union that brought together civil society organizations and victims’ groups in Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Serbia, along with the international organizations ICTJ and PAX to develop meaningful, victim-led peacebuilding and reconciliation initiatives in the region.

On May 12, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers agreed to create a mechanism to receive claims for damages caused by the Russian crime of aggression in Ukraine. The new registry is intended to receive information on claims of damage, loss, or injury caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine since February 24, 2022 and assess their eligibility for future adjudication or compensation. Many of the register’s chief proponents are hailing its creation as a key step toward accountability for the many violations of international law that Russia has committed in or against Ukraine. However, the register alone will not be sufficient to address the multitude of harms caused by the war.