This briefing paper sets out the obligations of the state and international best practice with respect to the right to truth, both as a key element of a transitional justice strategy and as a critical component of providing effective remedy to victims of gross violations of human rights and grave breaches of humanitarian law. It reiterates ICTJ’s long-standing belief that a truth commission is necessary in Nepal and that the search for the disappeared is an urgent obligation. The creation of effective truth-seeking policies and instruments is important due to elements of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and obligations contained in the 2007 Interim Constitution; but above all, it is essential as a means to realize the right to the truth. However, for truth-seeking to be successful, the instrument or instruments established to realize it must ensure its effectiveness.
The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with support from the Governments of Denmark and South Africa, and in close consultation with the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute (ASP), held a high-level retreat on “Supporting Complementarity at the National Level: From Theory to Practice,” at the Greentree Estate, in Manhasset, New York, on October 25 and 26, 2012. This report provides a summary of the principal discussions at the retreat without attributing views to individual participants.
National healing and reconciliation in Uganda requires a multilayered truth-telling process comprised of community and national processes that are mutually reinforcing and should not be mutually exclusive, as proposed by the JLOS report. A national truth-telling body should address issues of state responsibility. Importantly a national truth-telling process would be in a strong position to solicit and consider submissions for institutional reforms and reparations proposed by community-based processes throughout Uganda. Additionally it could recommend the necessary measures to redress the suffering of victims and prevent the reoccurrence of conflict and abuse.
Since independence Ugandans have endured episodes of violence and human rights abuses across successive political regimes and transitions with devastating consequences. During two decades of conflict in the northern Uganda involving the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the government forces, human rights abuses were perpetrated against individuals, families, and communities. With the return to peace, the government, victims’ groups, and civil society are now considering how to move forward with a national policy on transitional justice that includes reparations for victims in the north given the magnitude of serious violations that were committed.
Transitional Justice is often pursued in contexts where people have been forced from their homes by human rights violations and have suffered additional abuses while displaced. Little attention has been paid, however, to how transitional justice measures can respond to the injustices of displacement. Transitional Justice and Displacement is the result of a collaborative research project of the International Center for Transitional Justice and the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement. It examines the capacity of transitional justice measures to address displacement, engage the justice claims of displaced persons, and support durable solutions, and analyzes the links between transitional justice and the interventions of humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding actors. The book makes a compelling case for ensuring that justice measures address displacement and that responses to displacement incorporate transitional justice.
Recent years have seen an increased recognition of the need to address the housing, land, and property (HLP) rights of displaced populations in post-conflict situations; however, the implementation of restitution programs is challenged by the fact that in most countries affected by internal displacement, access to land is regulated under customary law and held under informal tenure.
The protracted displacement of Palestinian refugees presents a complex set of challenges for the international refugee, humanitarian, and transitional justice fields. For the most part, these global movements have treated the Palestinian situation as a case apart: Palestinian refugees living in the areas where the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) operates are excluded from the 1951 Refugee Convention, and policies regarding restitution as a component of durable solutions to displacement have not typically been viewed as relevant to the Palestinian case. This paper explores the conceptual and practical challenges that arise when considering restitution for Palestinian refugees, and addresses these challenges in order to highlight the legal, practical, and political relevance of property restitution to reaching a viable settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Displacement was a major tactic used by armed groups during the brutal conflict in Liberia from 1989 to 2003. It is estimated that during this time, half the country’s population experienced displacement as a result of warfare. The large numbers of people forced from their homes meant that the displaced played a central role in the agreements ending the conflict. However, while the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was groundbreaking in its engagement with the diaspora community, no attempt was made to address internally displaced persons and their distinct needs. This paper discusses the challenges that the TRC faced in including IDPs and issues of concern to them in its work, and argues that displaced communities need to be engaged as early as possible in peacebuilding processes.
ICTJ’s briefing paper “Building Trust and Strengthening the Rule of Law” examines how an ad hoc vetting mechanism for officers in senior command positions could help consolidate democracy in Nepal. Author Alexander Mayer-Rieckh says that as Nepal abandons its commitments to pursue accountability for serious crimes, it undermines the ability of its security forces to maintain the rule of law and protect a new era of peace.
This paper considers the efforts of Timor-Leste’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation to address the forced displacement that occurred during the period of Indonesian occupation and in the post-Popular Consultation violence of 1999. It examines linkages between the work of the commission, which concluded in October 2005, and the government’s response to the 2006 displacement crisis.