During the opening day of ILAC’s 2016 Annual General Meeting, ILAC members and partners engaged with the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence Pablo de Greiff in a seminar entitled Breaking the Cycle of Violations: Reforming Judiciaries as Prevention.
The aim of the seminar was to initiate a dialogue with Mr. de Greiff in support of his efforts to provide guidance on how the recurrence of mass violations can be prevented in transitional justice settings.
The result was a very fruitful discussion that also featured Dr. Per Bergling, Principal Advisor on International Law to the Swedish Foreign Ministry and Elizabeth Andersen, Director of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative.
Mr. de Greiff began by describing his recent report on “guarantees of non-recurrence”, which he described as measures to prevent a return to human rights violations. Prominent among these measures, Mr. de Greiff listed judicial reform as a key measure to increase trust between citizens and institutions.
Noting that “understandings of transitional justice have been insufficiently sensitive to institutional context”, Mr. de Greiff expressed his hope that organizations such as ILAC’s members could contribute with their experiences to the development of policies on dealing with the intricacies of judicial reform:
My report on prevention was intended as a means of increasing dialogue without imposing a single model or policy. The aim is to increase coherence and harness existing ideas.
Stating that Sweden has long supported rule of law through technical capacity building, Dr. Bergling noted that “capacity alone is not sufficient” and that it was crucial to foster trust:
If people expect corruption, courts have little incentive to act otherwise. Building trust requires a shared paradigm of what law means and the ability to build a broader consensus to that end.
In commenting on these presentations, Ms. Andersen emphasized the particular need for context sensitivity in the type of post-conflict settings where ILAC members frequently work, as well as the effectiveness of a comprehensive approach in which a range of justice sector actors and other stakeholders are engaged in developing a collective understanding of new norms.
In following up on the seminar, ILAC will continue to work with its member organizations to develop a discussion paper describing lessons learned in the field by its members and how they can contribute to developing sound and effective policies targeting prevention. The ILAC Secretariat will also continue to work with the Swedish Transitional Justice Network to contribute to a broader understanding of the nexus between the rule of law and transitional justice.
Ms. Andersen’s full remarks can be read here.