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Yemen's nine-year conflict has devastated the country and created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The regional upheaval stemming from the ongoing war on Gaza has created more obstacles on the country's already complex path toward peace and shifted attention away from the set of UN-brokered commitments agreed upon by the parties to the conflict in December 2023, which include a nationwide ceasefire. Amid these challenges, it is more imperative than ever to support civil society and victims and bring attention to victims’ grievances and needs.

ICTJ acknowledges and welcomes the decisive action undertaken by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, requesting the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and three Hamas leaders – Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim Al-Masri, and Ismail Haniyeh – for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Human rights violations as well as any official response to them affect women’s lives in distinct, profound, and often unseen and unspoken ways. For a society grappling with mass atrocities, it is crucial to shed light on these diverse experiences, if they are ever to be acknowledged and repaired. Space must therefore be created for women victims to share their experiences. Libya is one such country. To help raise the voices of women victims and human rights defenders there, ICTJ has been collaborating with diverse women-led civil society organizations since 2019, bringing them together and helping them build their capacities.

Thirty years after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, painful memories of those gruesome 100 days, during which almost one million Rwandan citizens lost their lives, still haunt the people of Rwanda, the rest of Africa, and the world. It is a solemn occasion to remember and honor the victims and survivors of the genocide and to acknowledge the tremendous strength and resilience they have shown in the wake of unspeakable tragedy. However, it is also a time for candid introspection on the African continent, and around the world, about the policies and mechanisms in place to prevent such atrocities.

The Arabic word “Zyara” means “visit” in English. The Zyara documentary series takes an innovative, deeply personal approach to storytelling with a view to nurturing collective social and emotional healing. Through candid encounters, it paints poetic portraits of four Yemenis refugees living in Oman, including a human rights lawyer and activist, a restaurant worker, a martial arts champion, and a businessman. By telling their stories and celebrating the resilient spirit of the Yemeni people, the Zyara project seeks to raise awareness and preserve truth and memory.

In the aftermath of armed conflict or repression, communities often struggle to rebuild social relations that have been damaged or destroyed by violence and abuse. Restorative justice can potentially play a valuable role in such societies, bringing together the people who have been harmed by crimes and the individuals responsible for those harms, often in the form of a dialogue, to address the offense and its consequences. A new ICTJ research report offers insight and guidance on the use of a restorative justice framework in responding to massive and grave human rights violations, drawing primarily from experiences in Colombia, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, and the Philippines’ Bangsamoro region.

On February 13, 2024, the interactive cultural exhibit “If There Is Truth, There Is Future” opened to the public at Bogotá’s Center for Memory, Peace and Reconciliation. As part of the Colombian Truth Commission’s post-closure cultural and educational outreach activities, the exhibit aims to inform Colombians of all generations about the commission’s findings and inspire them to take action to prevent a recurrence of conflict.

On February 29, 2024, The Gambia-Economic Community of West African States Joint Technical Committee held its inaugural meeting on the establishment of a hybrid court to hold to account those responsible for gross human rights violations committed in the country between July 1994 and January 2017 during the dictatorship of former President Yahya Jammeh. Such an internationalized court presents an opportunity to deliver criminal accountability to the victims and Gambian society as whole. It is also just the latest step in The Gambia’s transitional justice journey.

On February 8, ICTJ held an event in The Hague on the missing and disappeared in Syria, in partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The event brought together activists, journalists, artists, and policymakers to reflect on the critical humanitarian needs of victims and their families and the role of the newly established international body on the missing in Syria, which is mandated in part to address these needs.

Thousands took to the streets across Kenya on January 27 following the gruesome slaying of more than a dozen women to denounce violence against women and demand action to end it. Protesters later gathered in Nairobi on February 14 for a Valentine’s Day vigil for the more than 30 women murdered in the country so far this year and to pressure the government to declare femicide and violence against women a national emergency and to establish a commission to address these crimes and thereby break the cycle of impunity. These efforts are laudable, if not inspiring. However, physical and sexual violence against women and femicide—at times perpetrated by law enforcement officers who are meant to protect them, as enshrined in Kenya’s 2010 Constitution—has persisted in Kenya for decades.

ICTJ’s partner Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization (AHRDO) recently opened a new virtual museum and database dedicated to Afghan victims of conflict and human rights abuses. “The Afghanistan Memory House” not only preserves the memory of these victims but helps pave the path for truth and justice. To launch the virtual museum, ICTJ and AHRDO cohosted a panel discussion on memorialization, moderated BBC journalist Lyse Doucet, in ICTJ’s office in New York this past December.

On November 28, 2023, ICTJ organized an international dialogue in Bogotá, Colombia, to share innovative strategies for advancing victims’ rights to redress for human rights abuses and for establishing more victim-centered development policies. The gathering also marked the official launch of ICTJ’s new report—Advancing Victims’ Rights and Rebuilding Just Communities Local Strategies for Achieving Reparation as a Part of Sustainable Development—which presents findings from a two-year comparative study of local efforts in Colombia, The Gambia, Tunisia, and Uganda to advance reparations.

In 2021, the Central African Republic created the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission (CVJRR) to establish the truth, pursue justice, and restore victims’ dignity, with a view to ultimately achieving national reconciliation. In this fragile country, battered by successive episodes of violence, justice, in its broadest sense, has always been and remains a lifelong demand of victims. After a lengthy operationalization phase, the CVJRR is now finally getting ready to start registering and hearing victims’ testimonies. The first step in this process is statement taking, which requires taking several key factors into account to be successful.

ICTJ is pleased to announce the winners of its “Overseas” writing contest. In it, young people originally from or currently residing in Lebanon, Libya, or Tunisia who have left their home countries for political or socioeconomic reasons were asked to share their personal experiences of migration in the form of a short, written testimony.

Throughout 2023, ICTJ’s experts have offered their unique perspective on breaking news around the globe as part of the World Report. Their insightful commentaries have brought into focus the impact these events have on victims of human right violations as well as larger struggles for peace and justice. In this edition, we look back on the past year through the Expert’s Choice column.

On October 25, the African Union (AU) and European Union officially launched their joint Initiative for Transitional Justice in Africa (ITJA) in Addis Ababa. The project will take place over a three-year period and will promote national transitional justice processes in Africa, in line with the AU Transitional Justice Policy and its roadmap. The ITJA has several unique features that, if embraced and advanced by all actors, have the potential to trailblaze a new and inspiring path to peace, justice, and sustainable development on the African continent.

On November 28, ICTJ hosted an international conference to explore the synergies between reparations and sustainable development in Bogotá, Colombia. The event, titled “Advancing Victims’ Rights and Rebuilding Just Communities: An International Dialogue on Reparations and Sustainable Development,” brought together ICTJ partners from The Gambia, Tunisia, and Uganda along with civil society and government representatives from Colombia to discuss local strategies for advancing reparations for human rights abuses and how repairing victims and affected communities can contribute to local and national development. On the occasion, ICTJ also launched a new research report on the topic.

ICTJ and the Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights Organizations cohosted a national event to increase victims’ and civil society’s meaningful participation in Ethiopia’s transitional justice process. The event brought together Ethiopian government officials and policymakers, civil society representatives, members of the media, and international stakeholders to discuss strategies to ensure victims and gender-related concerns remain at the center of the efforts underway in the country to deal with recent and past violence and its consequences.

On October 15, the UN Secretary-General made two strong humanitarian appeals: for Hamas to release the hostages immediately and without conditions, and for Israel to allow humanitarian aid to enter into Gaza unimpeded so it can reach the civilians desperately in need of it. The UN Security Council has heard but not listened to his words, while governments with power to persuade the actors engaged in the hostilities to respect the rule of law have failed to do so. Yet, the moral imperative is clear and simple.

On October 7, the world watched in horror as members of the militant group Hamas slaughtered over 1,400 Israelis, most of whom were civilians including children and the elderly, in a premeditated and sophisticated attack. Israel’s response has so far been no less horrific. Incessant waves of indiscriminate airstrikes on Gaza have hit residential buildings, medical facilities, and other critical civilian infrastructure, besieging the entire enclave and leaving more than 5,000 people dead including 2,000 children. Unfortunately, these unspeakable atrocities—the condemnation and rejection for which we have run out of words—are not isolated events happening in a vacuum. They are, in fact, just the latest episodes in a 75-yearlong cycle of violence.

The African Union and the European Union have officially launched a three-year project to support AU member states as they incorporate the African Union Transitional Justice Policy and undertake transitional justice processes at the national level. The project, named the Initiative for Transitional Justice in Africa, will be implemented by a consortium of three organizations led by the International Center for Transitional Justice, the African Transitional Justice Legacy Fund, and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

On September 18 and 19, world leaders gathered in New York for the UN Sustainable Development Goals Summit to take stock of the progress that the global community has made toward achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the challenges it still faces. At the summit, the UN General Assembly adopted a political declaration, which asserts that the achievement of the SDGs is “in peril,” describing progress toward them as moving too slowly and even regressing in some countries as a result of multiple, overlapping crises, such as persistent armed conflict. The international community must go further in specifying the obstacles that societies affected by conflict and widespread abuses face and the role that human rights can play in overcoming them.

The study of macro-criminality is critically important to transitional justice and specifically to efforts to pursue accountability for large-scale, systematic human rights violations. To help enliven debates concerning macro-criminality and broaden access to them, ICTJ has translated into Spanish for the first time ever the seminal essay "Can Politics Be Criminalized?" written by German criminologist Herbert Jäger.

ICTJ is pleased to announce the “Overseas: Writing Contest,” an open call for young migrants originally from or currently residing in Lebanon, Libya, or Tunisia to share their personal experiences of migration in the form of a short, written testimony.

In advance of the 2023 SDG Summit, the Working Group on Transitional Justice and SDG16+ has released a new report underscoring the contribution of transitional justice to the advancement of sustainable peace and development and offering stakeholders strategies to better incorporate it into relevant agendas and action plans. The SDG Summit marks the halfway point of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and offers the global community an opportunity to take stock of the progress it has made and the challenges it still faces in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Five years ago, in August 2018, to mark his 100 days in office, Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan addressed a large rally in Yerevan’s Republic Square to officially announce his government’s intentions to incorporate transitional justice mechanisms into Armenian post-revolution reform agenda. Since then, Armenia has been pursuing a range of transitional justice initiatives alongside other democratic reforms, and it has made some limited headway, despite setbacks and major challenges including renewed conflict with Azerbaijan.

More than 20 years after the end of the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, Kosovo is still contending with unresolved ethnic tensions. Formerly an autonomous region of Serbia within the former Yugoslavia, Kosovo declared independence in 2008. Ethnic tensions were a root cause of the violent conflicts, during which an estimated 140,000 died and numerous atrocities were committed. ICTJ recently sat down with ICTJ's Anna Myriam Roccatello and Kelli Muddell to learn more about ICTJ's work and the present challenges to truth and justice in the country.

July 17, 2023, marked 25 years since the Rome Statute was adopted at a conference in Rome, Italy. The statute created the world’s first permanent international court, the International Criminal Court, which was probably the most significant milestone in international criminal justice since the Nuremburg and Tokyo trials of the mid-20th century. It signaled the firm intention of many nations to address ongoing impunity of the most serious crimes known to humankind. After 25 years, however, the ICC has not yet reached its full potential.

The photography exhibition “All Our Tears” weaves together the stories of victims from the wars in the Western Balkan region in the 1990s. It consists of photographs taken by four photographers in various locations in Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Serbia, and was part of a three-year project funded by the European Union that brought together civil society organizations and victims’ groups in Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Serbia, along with the international organizations ICTJ and PAX to develop meaningful, victim-led peacebuilding and reconciliation initiatives in the region.

On June 29, 2023, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution creating a new independent institution on the missing in the Syria Arab Republic. Eighty-three member states voted in favor, 11 voted against, and 62 abstained. ICTJ welcomes the resolution, which represents a momentary reprieve in Syria’s otherwise bleak justice landscape. This vote represents a critical step forward in supporting all those who seek answers about the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones and who suffer daily from the indignities and grave hardships that ensue when a loved one goes missing.

Eight years ago, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 19 as the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict in an effort to raise awareness about this endemic tactic of war; honor the innumerable victims and survivors across the world, as well as those working to end these violations; and ultimately eradicate this dehumanizing practice. History has shown that whenever there is a political or security crisis juxtaposed with a militarized response, conflict-related sexual violence is deployed as a tactic to subdue, dehumanize, and terrorize civilians and opponents.

In societies grappling with conflict or repression, LGBTQ+ individuals are often targeted with violence and discrimination and experience some of the cruelest human rights violations. In 2022, Colombia Diversa began collaborating with members of ASFADDES, a prominent association of relatives of the missing or disappeared in Colombia. In June, 24 representatives from the two organizations met in Bogotá to for a series of workshops in which they exchanged knowledge and best practices and developed a better understanding of how to search for missing or disappeared LGBTQ+ persons.

On May 12, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers agreed to create a mechanism to receive claims for damages caused by the Russian crime of aggression in Ukraine. The new registry is intended to receive information on claims of damage, loss, or injury caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine since February 24, 2022 and assess their eligibility for future adjudication or compensation. Many of the register’s chief proponents are hailing its creation as a key step toward accountability for the many violations of international law that Russia has committed in or against Ukraine. However, the register alone will not be sufficient to address the multitude of harms caused by the war.

The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and the Committee of the Families of the Kidnapped and Disappeared in Lebanon (CFKDL) will release Windmills of Our Hearts, a new book of short stories by 15 women relatives of missing and forcibly disappeared persons in Lebanon. On June 1, ICTJ and CFKDL will host a public launch and book signing event at Dar el Wardieh in Hamra, Beirut.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the hip hop movement. To honor its contributions to the struggle for justice, truth, and equality, the Skoll Foundation hosted a panel discussion and concert event featuring hip hop artists, including cofounder of the legendary rap group Run-DMC Darryl McDaniels and Colombian rapper and producer Ali aka Mind, as part of its 20th World Forum held in April in Oxford, United Kingdom. ICTJ, which received the Skoll Award for Social Innovation in 2009 and has partnered with the Skoll Foundation since, invited Ali aka Mind as a representative of Rexistencia Hip Hop, an artistic mentorship and creation lab led by ICTJ’s office in Colombia and the Latin American media outlet and foundation Cartel Urbano.

On March 21, the Ugandan Parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, adopting the harshest anti-LGBTQ+ law in the world. Under it, homosexuality is punishable by life imprisonment, while "aggravated homosexuality" is punishable by death. The bill not only threatens the rights of LGBTQ+ persons, it undermines and erodes Uganda’s commitment to human rights.

“Despite laws already in place, the number of sexual and gender-based violence [SGBV] cases is still rising, including cases of rape, female genital mutilation, sexual assault, and harassment. This means there is the need for enforcement of such laws,” asserted Didier Gbery, ICTJ’s head of program for The Gambia, at the opening of a workshop this past March on increasing SGBV victims’ access to justice. The workshop was one of two that ICTJ organized in early 2023 to strengthen the capacity of stakeholders in The Gambia to defend SGBV victims and provide them with vital gender-sensitive support.

Colombia’s new president Gustavo Petro was elected to office on a progressive campaign to strengthen democracy, implement social reforms, and bring “total peace” to the country. His approach to peace encompasses political negotiations with all remaining insurgent groups and simultaneous dialogues with criminal organizations geared toward their voluntary submission to justice in exchange for punitive leniency. But eight months into his administration, Petro’s efforts to deliver on his campaign promise are facing numerous challenges.

In 2016, the Yemeni National Commission to Investigate Alleged Violations to Human Rights began documenting violations committed since the 2011 uprising and during the subsequent brutal civil war, which continues today. To date, the commission has documented more than 23,000 human rights abuses and referred over 2,000 cases to Yemen’s Public Prosecutor for prosecution. However, no verdict has been issued in any of these cases. To help the commissioners and members of Yemen’s judiciary advance accountability, ICTJ organized a workshop for them on transitional justice mechanisms. However, to deliver a justice that meets all the reparative needs of victims, these efforts must be an integral part of a broader, multifaceted transitional justice process.

For 112 years, International Women’s Day has marked a time to celebrate the achievement of women and raise awareness about gender inequality. On March 8th, this year’s campaign of #EmbraceEquity will shine a spotlight on women’s contribution to various fields, while highlighting the challenges they face in other industries. Eliminating the barriers to women’s access to economic, political, and social resources is fundamental to creating and maintaining a stable democratic society. Often at the core of repressive regimes is a systematic effort to exercise control over the lives of women. Similarly, an erosion of the rights of women in “stable” democracies is often a harbinger of a broader attack on the rights of citizens.

ICTJ releases a new briefing paper, “Reflections on Victim-Centered Accountability in Ukraine.” The paper examines the various actions that have been taken or are under consideration to investigate and prosecute war crimes and other human rights violations in Ukraine. It explores the myriad challenges they face and how tools from the field of transitional justice can be applied in tandem to deliver justice and reparation to victims and lay the foundation for a more inclusive and democratic Ukraine.

The end of 2022 in Venezuela was marked by signs of willingness from all parties to take concrete steps toward democracy. The government and the opposition resumed negotiations and agreed to allow the United Nations to manage a fund for billions of dollars of frozen assets, which would be gradually released to address the country’s humanitarian crisis. The United States authorized the Chevron Corporation to resume limited operations for importing Venezuelan oil. Finally, the 2015 National Assembly voted to end the opposition-led interim government. While these steps are initial ones to create the conditions for trust among the parties, they offer opportunities to improve the dire circumstances in which many Venezuelans currently live.

In a fast-changing world, ICTJ regularly reexamines and adapts its methodology to develop innovative solutions to emerging problems, advance its mission, and achieve justice for victims of human rights violations. In that spirit, ICTJ recently launched an exciting new website and newsletter design. After over a year of research, planning, surveying stakeholders, designing, and testing, we unveiled a site that better aligns with what ICTJ and transitional justice are today.

Since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in August 2021, the regime has put in place a series of policies severely restricting independent media and giving it all but total control over news outlets and their content. Kobra Moradi is a lawyer and researcher working with Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization and author of the recent report, Afghan Media Under the Taliban: Restrictions and Violations. ICTJ sat down with the author to learn more about what impact these restrictions have had on journalists and the free press, and the important role media can still play in such a repressive regime.

Throughout 2022, ICTJ’s experts weighed in on breaking news in more than 10 countries, offering incisive analyses of the political dynamics behind the coverage and the implications for justice, peace, and the rights of victims. In this December edition of the World Report, we look back at the year that was through our Expert’s Choice commentaries, bringing you all of our team’s valuable insights together in one place.

ICTJ and the Bridges of Truth project are launching Tomorrow We Continue, a new short animated documentary that follows a young mother of two whose husband was detained and disappeared by security forces in Syria some years ago. The film takes the viewer on her journey as a refugee searching for safety in Berlin and depicts the daily struggles she encounters once settled as she tries to earn a living and care for her children while continuing to search for her husband. Since the uprising in Syria began in 2011, more than 100,000 people have been disappeared or arbitrarily detained. The families they leave behind may move to safer places as refugees, but the search for their loved ones persists wherever they go. This film is one of their stories.

The United States has never collectively confronted its history of colonialism, slavery, and racism in an effort to reform the systems that perpetuate harms to Black communities and other marginalized groups, or to redress these wrongs. Events in recent years, however, have amplified calls for meaningful action to reckon with the past. Given that truth seeking is integral to the investigation of past wrongs, ICTJ and a coalition of practitioners from multiple law firms has released a new report that examines the experiences of official truth commissions from around the world to identify relevant considerations for US stakeholders.

Nearly two years after the conflict erupted in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region in the north, the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front signed an African Union-brokered cessation of hostilities agreement on November 2, followed by an implementation deal 10 days later. The breakthrough agreement offers a glimmer of hope after a brutal war. It charts a path toward peace and lays the foundations for addressing the legacy of the serious human rights violations and preventing their recurrence by providing for the implementation of a transitional justice policy centered on accountability, truth seeking, redress for victims, and reconciliation and healing.

Libyan civil society organizations are fighting against all odds to support victims of human rights violations. In doing so, they themselves risk violence and do their work despite the visible and invisible pain they feel and the innumerable obstacles placed in front of them. Renewed global attention on the Libyan conflict and two new draft laws to protect activists and others may help.

Even as the parties to the war in Yemen fail to extend the UN-brokered ceasefire, field monitors of the National Commission to Investigate Alleged Violations to Human Rights (NCIAVHR) continue to document and investigate human rights violations despite enormous challenges and serious risks to their...