Integrating Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in Transitional Justice Processes: A Vehicle for Reform in the Middle East and North Africa?

Stefanie Kirschweng and Johannes Hamacher
Center for International Peace Operations | 2015

Addressing legacies of the past and revealing the truth is critical for societies emerging from conflict or authoritarian rule to build a future based on peace and justice. Transitional Justice (TJ) plays an essential role in promoting accountability, in reestablishing civic trust, and in encouraging reconciliation. During the past 30 years, TJ as a domain of policy, practice, and academic study has focused predominantly on violations of political and civil human rights, whereas violations of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) were considered secondary, even though all human rights and fundamental freedoms are universal, indivisible, and interrelated. In the aftermath of authoritarian rule, the calls for TJ interventions to address past abuses were unprecedented in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Socio-economic grievances, outrage at widespread corruption, and the quest for freedom and human dignity were main drivers of the popular upheavals throughout the region. Conventional TJ approaches are thus insufficient for responding to comprehensive justice demands in the MENA region, while a holistic approach to TJ provides better and more opportunities to address the manifold challenges ahead.

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