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.
An internal armed conflict involving the government, leftist guerrillas, and a variety of paramilitary groups and criminal bands has endured in Colombia for the last 60 years, generating massive levels of displacement. A comprehensive truth commission that investigates major human rights violations, including the uprooting of millions of Colombian citizens, will be essential to a transition to peace.
The 2006 crisis in Timor-Leste saw close to 15 percent of the population displaced from their homes, threatening to sink the country into protracted instability and violence. Remarkably, five years later the country was back on track, with the internal displacement issue largely resolved. This paper looks at the National Recovery Strategy (NRS) that the government adopted to resolve internal displacement in Timor-Leste. Following a discussion of the NRS, the paper considers whether or not its cash-grant scheme qualifies as a full-fledged reparations effort.
In cases other than those of environmental disasters, some mix of persecution and fear of violence based on ethnicity, race, or religion, plus violations of human rights and repression based on political beliefs and opinions often characterizes forced displacement for both internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees. The actions and structures of the security sector—especially the police, military, paramilitary groups, intelligence, border patrols, and prison guards—often play a crucial role in this persecution and repression.