Insofar as public acknowledgment is a fundamental element of their work, transitional justice measures must take into account outreach in order to be effective. Outreach is a multifaceted set of activities that includes public consultation, media engagement, dissemination of information, and, in general, strategies to engage the public.
Despite their importance, outreach activities are typically underfunded, understaffed, and poorly strategized from start to finish. The result is that outreach efforts often fall short of what is necessary to contribute to the legitimacy of transitional justice initiatives and the adequate public acknowledgment of victims of human rights abuse.
In late 2009, ICTJ’s Research Unit began a project to examine outreach initiatives for prosecutions, truth-telling, and reparations programs.
The project’s central objective was to produce tools and usable knowledge to support more sophisticated and sensitive outreach programs. The project also sought to raise awareness of the importance of outreach as a component of transitional justice initiatives.
Among the project's activities, research was conducted around five case studies selected based on thematic, regional, and strategic criteria. The studies include:
These case studies were complemented with two additional analyses of the outreach efforts of the International Criminal Court and the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and two further thematic studies on outreach in museums and domestic prosecutions.
Additionally, the project considered issues such as civil society involvement, special audiences for outreach, and the relationship between outreach and the press.
In January 2011, the Research Unit published Making an Impact: Guidelines on Designing and Implementing Outreach Programs for Transitional Justice, a report that offers concrete advice to practitioners based on the commissioned studies, as well as a systematic theoretical analysis of outreach for transitional justice measures.
A report entitled Outreach Strategies in International and Hybrid Courts was published following a workshop for outreach experts held in Phnom Penh.