ICTJ to Release New Research on Prevention and Transitional Justice


New York, June 21, 2021—ICTJ will launch a series of publications presenting findings from a major research project on prevention and transitional justice, as part of a Zoom webinar and panel discussion on June 28. The public event will bring together relevant policymakers, practitioners, donors, and scholars for an overview of the research findings and a discussion of transitional justice’s vital contribution to the prevention of violent conflict and authoritarian rule. The event is cohosted by the Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs within the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg.

The publication series includes five in-depth country case studies—on Colombia, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, and Sierra Leone—as well an overview report highlighting the main findings. The project examines how addressing the causes and consequences of massive human rights violations can prevent future injustices and violence.

“With prevention a top priority on the global policy agenda, this research is timely,” says ICTJ senior research expert Roger Duthie. “The goal is to deepen our understanding of transitional justice’s role in preventing the recurrence of massive human rights violations, but also to broaden the discussion to include its positive impact on preventing violence more generally.” The project makes the case, based on evidence and experience, that transitional justice processes are valuable for sustainable peace and development. In doing so, Duthie says, it aims to bridge gaps in the way different fields, including conflict prevention, peacebuilding, and development, approach both prevention and transitional justice.

Findings from the case studies suggest that transitional justice initiatives can foster inclusion at different levels of society, strengthen the rule of law, and help reform abusive and discriminatory institutions, which in turn help prevent recurrence. However, they also reveal that the effects of these initiatives are frequently limited by a lack of implementation, political and security concerns, and the need for more transformational changes across society.                                                                     

While all the countries studied in the project still struggle with underlying problems, in each one, transitional justice has made a real difference in society’s efforts to tackle common drivers of injustice such as exclusion. In Sierra Leone, transitional justice processes scrutinized the causes and devasting effects of the civil war, contributed to institutional reforms, and increased awareness among citizens of their rights. “The use of transitional justice mechanisms helped to transform the approach to conflict and tensions in the country. It continues to remind Sierra Leoneans that no one is above the law. That was a lesson not just for Sierra Leone but for other countries in the region,” explains Ibrahim Bangura, author of the Sierra Leone study. “Problems such as ethnic divisions, political tensions between the ruling and opposition parties, and the marginalization of youth certainly persist today, but a return to mass political violence is highly unlikely.”

In Colombia, transitional justice has helped build a culture of respect for human rights, strengthened local leadership in communities affected by country’s civil war, facilitated the reintegration of victims into society, and put issues such as the economic dimensions of the violence on the public agenda. “Colombia ended the longest of its armed conflicts in 2016,” says Maria Cielo Linares, author of the Colombia case study. “And although the systems of inequality and discrimination that fueled the conflict remain mostly intact, the violence the country has experienced since the peace agreement has not risen to the levels seen in the past.”

The countries examined in the project represent very different contexts, from those emerging from violent conflict, to those where a repressive government has committed gross violations in the past or is presently doing so. Nevertheless, the project’s comparative analysis provides broadly applicable findings on the importance of addressing the root causes and consequences of injustice through initiatives to increase inclusion, reform institutions, and promote broader societal change.

Register here to attend the webinar and panel discussion.

For more information and to view the full report series, please visit ictj.org. For the latest news and update, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter @theICTJ.

PHOTO: Relatives and friends hold balloons during the funeral of three-year-old Kateleen Myca Ulpina on July 9, 2019, in Rodriguez, Rizal province, Philippines. Ulpina was shot dead by police officers conducting a drug raid targeting her father. (Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)