Transitional Justice

A legal and social reckoning with past injustices can establish the basis for conflict transformation, development and reconciliation. For that reason, government and civil society organisations support a wide range of initiatives which, since the 1990s, have come to be known as “transitional justice”. Truth-seeking, public recognition of responsibility for abuses, prosecution, reparation and measures to ensure that such events do not recur are key issues in this context.

Over the past decade, truth commissions and tribunals have become established as important mechanisms for transitional justice at the international level. They focus on investigating major human rights violations during dictatorships and armed conflicts. However, they generally do not address the deeper causes of conflicts, which may include the social, cultural or political marginalisation of social groups or inequitable distribution of resources. But if transitional justice is to help lay the foundations for better conditions of life, as well as focusing retrospectively on past abuses, it must be based on a more comprehensive understanding of justice that is rooted in the indivisibility of human rights.

This understanding of justice can only become a reality, however, if there is coherence between the approaches adopted in the fields of transitional justice, development and peace-building. Transitional justice interventions should focus to a greater extent on analysing economic, social and cultural injustices and integrating “do no harm” approaches, while for their part, development and peace organisations should take account of the knowledge gained and recommendations developed through transitional justice processes when planning and implementing their own activities. The present focus on human rights and their indivisibility can serve as an entry point for these endeavours.

The Working Group on Peace and Development (FriEnt) is an association of governmental organisations, church development agencies, civil society networks, and political foundations.


Arbeitsgemeinschaft Frieden

und Entwicklung (FriEnt) c/ o GIZ

Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 36

53113 Bonn

Tel +49 228 4460-1916


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