Justice systems in transitional settings often risk being seen as part of the problem, particularly where they are weakened by the effects of conflict, or tainted by perceived corruption and complicity in human rights abuses. In such settings, rebuilding the ability of courts to dispense justice and regaining public trust in their integrity is crucial to peacebuilding efforts.

In this Discussion Paper, ILAC argues that independent and effective justice sector institutions play an indispensable role in containing societal conflict and guaranteeing respect for human rights. International support can be crucial to the success of justice reform efforts. The Paper takes up a number of the challenges for international justice reform assistance and provides recommendations for overcoming them, including:

  • the need to provide long-term support in a holistic manner, taking into account the needs not only of judges but also other key justice sector actors;
  • the importance of developing methodologies that support judicial independence while helping justice sector actors to understand their changing role in transitional societies;
  • the goal of ensuring that reforms translate into broader and more equitable access to justice and
  • the challenge of defining and measuring progress in supporting such reforms.

The Paper draws on the Consortium’s knowledge and experience, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, to examine how justice sector reform can be designed and implemented so that it contributes to transitional justice efforts and conflict prevention.

While aiming to improve its membership´s future activities in this field, the paper is also a contribution to a global dialogue. It was designed to support the efforts of former UN Special Rapporteur on Transitional Justice, Pablo de Greiff, to promote measures that can prevent the recurrence of conflict and human rights violations. The conclusions of the report were discussed by the Justice Task Force of the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies and included in its Final Report.