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The United Nations Human Rights Council recently established a mandate for a Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-recurrence. The decision to create this position received widespread support among the UN member states, with 75 states co-sponsoring the resolution.
In this podcast Caitlin Reiger, director of international policy relations at ICTJ, discusses the objectives, qualities, and implications of this mandate on the field of transitional justice.
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“This is a demonstration by one of the most important political bodies of the UN—the Human Rights Council—that taking a comprehensive approach to dealing with a legacy of past human rights violations is important,” Reiger says. “The mandate is structured around the key pillars of the principles of fighting impunity that have been developed by the international system, drawing upon international law but recognizing that this is something that needs additional assistance.”
The mandate proposes the comprehensive implementation of transitional justice measures, including reconciliation processes, institutional reform, and criminal justice. The position is also formulated around a victim-centered and gender-sensitive approach which Reiger emphasizes is a landmark step.
“It's very rare that you get a political body at the multilateral level emphasizing the importance of listening to victims of massive human rights violations,” Reiger points out. “The Special Rapporteur will be able to look at the process by which transitional justice measures are being designed and implemented and make recommendations for how victims can be more involved in that process, and that goes for incorporating a gender perspective as well.”
While the work of the Special Rapporteur will inevitably face institutional and political challenges, the creation of this position with such widespread support demonstrates the ever increasing recognition of the importance of promoting truth, justice, reparation, and ensuring violations of human rights do not recur.
Information on the process of nominating candidates for the position is available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/chr/special/nominations.htm.