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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.