In its first step to explore how cultural and social factors interact with transitional justice measures, ICTJ is pleased to have just released a new book titled Transitional Justice, Culture, and Society: Beyond Outreach.
As the result of an innovative, multi-year project of ICTJ’s Research unit, the book examines how outreach programs, the media, and other aspects of culture have the potential to strengthen or undermine social transformation.
In this edition of the ICTJ Forum, ICTJ’s Communications Director Refik Hodzic speaks with Clara Ramírez Barat, Senior Associate with ICTJ's Research Unit], and editor of the book.
Ramírez Barat explains the motivation behind taking up this research project to investigate the still largely unexplored relationships between culture, society, and transitional justice. She also emphasizes why broader social and historical contexts are vital to the success of efforts towards accountability and reform.
The book, which builds upon existing research by ICTJ, aims to provide guidance and practical and tools for practitioners engaged in the design of public education and outreach programs.
“Outreach was conceived as actions by institutions to [secure] ‘buy in’ and public support,” explains Ramírez Barat. “They didn’t acknowledge the fact that these institutions are democratic in nature and that they have to be legitimate, and legitimized by the societies in which they operate.”
Examining the role of outreach led the Research unit to ask itself about the role of other factors, such as media and art, both of which play an important role to frame the narratives of these processes, and things that “cannot be captured in a truth commission report or in a testimony in a trial chamber.”
Ramírez Barat stresses the need to further explore the relationship between transitional justice, culture, and the media, and invites experts from fields outside of transitional justice –such as artists, journalists, and intellectuals– to reflect upon these intersections.
“You can have perfect procedures, you can have a perfect truth commission; but if the message that a truth commission wants to send out is not read or understood or discussed by the population, there’s no point,” she says.
Photo: Desaparecidos (Disappeared), Gervasio Sánchez photography exhibition, 10th Human Rights Film Festival, San Sebastian, Spain, April 2012 (Iñigo Royo)