Letter from Chaloka Beyani, August 2012
Transitional Justice and Displacement
Dear Friends and Supporters of the IDP Mandate,
In my capacity as the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and Co-Director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, each month I have the pleasure of sharing with you some of the highlights of my recent work, along with the Project newsletter. This month, our newsletter is focusing on the timely issue of the intersection of displacement and transitional justice.
The significance of transitional justice for displaced persons has been an issue of longstanding concern for my mandate. For example, my predecessor, Prof. Walter Kälin, focused attention on internal displacement and peace processes, stressing that IDPs must have the opportunity to participate actively in peace processes and the transitional justice mechanisms they often help to establish, such as property restitution commissions. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons, which was developed in close cooperation with the IDP mandate, underlines the valuable contributions transitional justice mechanisms can make to the resolution of displacement, and the need for IDPs to have “full and non-discriminatory access to effective remedies and access to justice, including, where appropriate, access to existing transitional-justice mechanisms, reparations and information on the causes of violations.”
Although transitional justice mechanisms may make important contributions to upholding the rights of internally displaced persons and opening up solutions to displacement, these fields have often operated in relative isolation from each another. However, in recent years important steps have been made to strengthen the connections between these fields, so that transitional justice measures respond more effectively to the particular concerns of displaced persons, and to crime of arbitrary displacement itself. On my recent mission to Côte d’Ivoire, as I did in Kenya last year, I had the opportunity to discuss this issue with the President and Commissioners of the country’s Truth, Reconciliation and Dialogue Commission, and to participate with the Commission in a public social cohesion session organized by local government authorities in Duekoue. While transitional justice mechanisms such as this one face a host of challenges, systematically and strategically engaging displaced populations and responding to their concerns is essential to their success.
In order to better understand the connections between displacement and transitional justice, and how these links may be strengthened, the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement embarked on a multi-year investigation of this issue, in partnership with the International Center for Transitional Justice. This initiative brought together researchers and practitioners from around the world, and resulted in the publication of a new book entitled Transitional Justice and Displacement, as well as a series of country case studies and a report that provides guidance to policymakers on this challenge. I warmly recommend these resources to all those interested in pursuing a greater degree of accountability for forced migration and the atrocities that are so often at its base.
In June, I had the pleasure of chairing a discussion on the results of this project hosted by the International Organization for Migration in Geneva, and in July my counterpart Dr. Pablo de Greiff, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-recurrence, chaired a similar session convened by UNDP and UN Women in New York. As work on this important issue continues, I look forward to further opportunities for collaboration between our mandates, and with the wide range of international, regional and non-governmental organizations concerned with strengthening justice and accountability for the displaced and other survivors of human rights violations.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons
Co-Director, Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement