Transitional justice: From Theory to Practice

July 31st, 2013 Comments off

by Marni Manning, Australia

While our initial week introduced the fundamentals of transitional justice and peace building, Monday’s guest presenters, Dr Derick Brinkerhoff and Dr Francesc Vendrell, provided unique insights into the practical realities associated with these fundamentals.  Interestingly despite varied careers their transitional justice experiences revealed remarkably similar conclusions. Starting from a common ground that no two conflicts, post conflict environments or peace agreements are the same, these sessions provided the perfect opportunity for us to hear about the complexities associated with transitional justice directly from practitioners.

IMG_0076Both presenters challenged us to consider our biases and how these might affect our notions of transitional justice and associated concepts commonly discussed yet often misunderstood, such as Governance.  This process in itself reinforced their joint perspective that for transitional justice to gain any traction particularly in the medium to longer term, it has to be contextually relevant and embraced at a local level.  The former implying that often Western traditions and assumptions frustrate attempts at nation rebuilding, resulting in overly ambitious expectations and measures of ‘success’.  While emphasising the local context compels practitioners to consider the complex interplay of a nation’s history, horizontal inequities and capacity when developing responsive transitional arrangements.

 IMG_0101These presentations emphasised the temporal aspects of transitional arrangements, emphasising the necessarily long-term commitment required.  Again the presenters’ practical insights were invaluable in illustrating transition as a dynamic process; a process often impacted over time by the domestic political structures and processes of donor states.

On a final note, interactive discussions expanded our thinking about transitional justice considering not only the context of the post conflict country itself but to examine regional aspects and even international factors that may and do impact on transitional arrangements. Often humour filled examples drawn from their vast experiences once again provided practical illustrations of just how significant such national, regional and international contextual issues influence the nature of transitional arrangements and their relative effectiveness in addressing the complex post conflict environment.






Categories: The Hague 2013 Tags:

Governance & Its Discontents

July 30th, 2013 Comments off

Troy Powell, Canada

IMG_0080Our breakout discussions were quite interesting and covered a wide gamut of topics. If I were to identify an overarching theme I would say it was globalization. A topic that evoked a protean sentiment depending on who was articulating the concept, given the international flavour of our particular group this was no surprise.

In high school I learned a textbook definition of globalization describing the phenomenon as, “A specialization of production for a comparative market advantage.” This definition evinced a strategic procurement of capital through the strategic running down of production costs, this typically involved securing low cost production sites in a foreign country for corporate entities.

Throughout our discussions on the merits and dangers of globalization, I realized we were talking about very different versions of overarching concepts, which is a good thing. We touched upon the globalization of identities, of capital, and space. As our conversation moved to the twin effects of forced integration and its concomitant impulse of dis-integration, I realized we were talking about the same aspect of the same thing, with its causes and effects being expressed through our unique perspectives and experience. To borrow from the blind men and elephant metaphor, we were all touching on a different part of the same creature.

Some members of our group, challenged the notion of sovereignty, highlighting its varied features, and the changes it is undergoing. This made me recall Steven D Krasner’s fourfold distinction of the term.

Domestic Sovereignty – organization of public authority within a state and to the level of effective control exercised by those holding authority;

Interdependence Sovereignty – the ability of public authorities to control transborder movements,

International Legal Sovereignty – Mutual recognition of states or other entities,

Westphalian Sovereignty – the exclusion of external actors from domestic authority configurations

These definitions lay at the crux of authority and control, as well as legitimacy and fairness, two concepts also central to globalization. These concepts came about when we discussed how both issues of globalization and sovereignty have created the divide known as the global north and south.

In many ways the current phenomenon of globalization and with it the quandaries of governance (both local and global) resemble the ancient Jagganath, a Hindu deity whose effigy was worshipped as it was pulled and both pushed, killing many devotees. The chaotic self-reflexive environment we find ourselves in is a reality that highlights our mutual dependence and vulnerability. There are many threats yes, but also many opportunities to forge innovative solutions reflective of and appropriate to the current status quo it is important that we are not discourage and maintain the optimism and patience to find them.

Categories: The Hague 2013 Tags:

Week One Recap

July 29th, 2013 Comments off

by Joelle Thibault, Canada

Wednesday at The Hague symposium, the class went downtown to the Leiden University, where we joined our guest speaker Dov Jacobs. He is an Assistant Professor in International Law at the Grostius Centre. Jacobs explained to us the difference between retributive and restorative justice. He is a great speaker and answers honestly, which I really appreciated. He is a man with a lot of knowledge and he is not shy to share that knowledge. He also gave the class his point of view of the International Criminal Court and later on in the evening, in a Person 2 Person activity, several of us from the class viewed a video on the job of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. It was a great chance to see another point of view for the ICC and also get to see behind the scenes of the court process. I truly would suggest the documentary, as it is quite informative. Dov Jacobs also has a blog, on which he discusses international law issues, called “Spreading the Jam”. He truly was an excellent guest speaker and I would love to attend a course of his at the University. It was a great experience going to Leiden University and getting to meet Dov Jacobs.

IMG_0026Friday, we were joined at the Clingendael institute by Dr. Valerie Rosoux. She is a senior research fellow at the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS) and lecturer at the University of Louvain (Belgium). Dr. Rosoux was a fantastic guest speaker, who immediately got the attention of the whole class, but talking to us about reconciliation and memory. We discussed a lot among the class about truth and reconciliation councils and how they work. We also viewed a video talking about a truth and reconciliation that happened several years ago and showed what the process entailed in this particular situation. It was a really interesting video and gave some more information for those that were unsure of what a truth and reconciliation tribunal was. We had a lot of discussions about memory and how it takes a long time to readjust a memory in our mind (to try and forget and forgive) and how little things can make us remember a memory differently than someone else. For example, how a situation, like a robbery at a convenience store, can be remembered differently by three different people. Dr. Rosoux was so captivating and interesting during her presentation that I would love to attend one of her lectures at the University of Louvain.

Categories: The Hague 2013 Tags:

ICC : I went, I Saw, I Learned!

July 26th, 2013 Comments off

Yabah Berthe Bognini, Ivory Coast

IPSI_Hague_Week 1-23The fourth day of the symposium began with a field trip at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The purpose of the trip was to learn more about the ICC and it’s work in a more concrete and realistic manner. The trip was immensely educationnal , challenging and fascinating. I learned so much that, by the end of the trip, I was sure  many of us had decided to join that institution.

We found a surprisingly humble building, but later learned that the current building is  an interim premises. Scheduled to open in 2015, the permanent premises designed  by a Danish architectural firm will be located at Alexanderkazerne (Alexander  Barracks), which will be closer to the detention center and be part of  the International  Zone of the Hague.

We began with a tour of the renovated car park (in which the ICC is housed!), and were fortunate to visit one of the courtrooms. Sitting behind bulletproof glass, we  were surprised to be situated only metres from where the witness would be sitting  during a trial. Speaking to the group, Kathryn Finley, Assistant Legal Officier traced the history of  the instiution which is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court  established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of serious crimes of concern  to the international community, namely genocide, war crimes, and crimes against  humanity. The ICC is an independent international organization headquartered  in The Hague in the Netherlands. The court was established on July 17, 1998 by  the Rome Statute, the treaty and legal basis for establishing the permanent court.

Currently, 122 countries support the ICC. The ICC has also been established as a  court of last resort, and will only act if a national judicial system refuses to investigate  or prosecute a particular case. Anticipating the question about the fact that the court is simply working in Africa andnot taking on cases outside, she said that there are also preliminary examinations  of situations in Georgia and Afghanistan. The ICC were  analysing situations from  around the world, and conducting investigations into many countries. However  we  have to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is not to try to have a balance of cases  from around the world – but just to do what is necessary and investigate the worst  crimes. Some of the worst crimes right now are happening in Africa, and that is  why the ICC has so many cases in Africa. It has nothing to do with striving towards  balance, but it’s about pursuing justice where it is most necessary.

Finally, Antonia Pereira de Sousa, Associate Cooperation Officer then taught us about the OTP, Office of the Prosecutor. There is a joint team of 300 persons divided into three sub-offices : the Investigation division, the prosecution division and the juridiction, complementarity and cooperation division. The OTP is guided by three  principles: independance, objectivity and complementarity.

To be honest, before this trip to the ICC, I was actually a bit more critical of the Court’s policies. This trip helped me understand what the Court is all about, and  helped me think more grandly. Although there are numerous problems to be solved  in the short-run, and the Court is still so young – this trip opened my eyes to the  immense potential the ICC has to help alleviate some of the world’s most complex  conflicts in the long-run. I felt incredibly lucky and privileged to be able to go to the Hague and observed  firsthand my interest in transitional justice, especially in light of all the exciting new  developments taking place at the ICC and now I understand better it’s goals.

IPSI_Hague_Week 1-27« Understanding the situation » : The afternoon was devoted to  Establishing  Security  in  transition, developed  by Lt. General Ton Van Loon, Corps Commander, 1st German/Dutch Corps, Former Commander, International Security Assistance. He emphasized on the dilemmas that arise in this type of situation. As he said, there is no single model of intervention for different contexts. The first thing to do is to understand the situation and the accountability in context, because as he said,  without accountability, we become wolves, predators. Going through a simulation, we analyzed the difficulties faced by a UN mission in a country in transition. We developed several scenarios that could happen in a complex and uncomfortable environment.

From the “security” symbolized by the ICC to the “insecurity” on the ground, leaders must constantly bear in mind the dynamics and complexity of their mission.

Categories: The Hague 2013 Tags:

If All You Have is a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail

July 26th, 2013 Comments off

by Sarah Tiong, Australia

IMG_0009It was a privilege to receive wisdom and perspective from Dr Dov Jacobs on Wednesday. The primary focus of our lesson was the elements and mechanisms to achieving justice. The IPSI participants were introduced to the fundamentals of retributive and restorative justice and were led through the theory of the ICC’s jurisdictional reach and functions. Coming from a legal background and having the foundations of International Criminal Law under my belt, Dr Jacobs served a refresher course and even opened my eyes to more theoretical and philosophical questions of whether truth exists and, if it does, why it matters. The instigating question hanging on my mind was whether justice could even be described as a state at which people arrive, post-conflict, with the assistance of the law.

The imperative notion that Dr Jacobs expressed was that there is a general problem of selectivity in International Law. Some people seek legal mechanisms to expose truth, exercise revenge or achieve peace through some cathartic process. Whatever purpose the law serves for people, it is essential to question what benchmark ought to be used to evaluate the effectiveness, success and applicability of the law. Post-conflict states are not in a position of calm after a storm. Rather, these states are in dire need of attention and sensitivity.

While this may seem like basic truisms, it remains valuable to bear these thoughts in mind as it becomes apparent that not all goals and intentions for repair, restoration and justice can be achieved simultaneously or equally. I personally viewed this as an important lesson from Dr Jacobs. From a holistic view, hierarchies are undesirable but without prioritizing and possibly implementing evaluation tests for the functions and consequences of mechanisms of justice, victims do not stand a significant chance at achieving justice at all. The day left me with the profound thought that Law won’t produce the answer and even as a tool to achieve the elusive level of justice that people seek and/or deserve, hammering every little issue, every little nail in the massive construction site that is international criminal law and post-conflict transitioning is an inefficient and exasperating exercise. Ultimately this full throttle start into the program has invigorated my enthusiasm in the international peace-building pursuits of IPSI.

Categories: The Hague 2013 Tags:

Mapping the Framework for Holistic Transitions

July 24th, 2013 Comments off

by Wanja Munaita, Kenya/Canada

IMG_0032From Australia to Cameroon, India to the United States, we gathered  yesterday with much anticipation for the first lecture of what has been defined as “an intense but fun & fulfilling” month at the Hague Symposium. Drawn together by diverse interests in Post Conflict Transitions & International Justice, scholars, practitioners, government representatives as well as policy makers gathered at the Clingendael Institute of Foreign Affairs. Our session was centered on Mapping the Framework for Holistic Transitions. The days lecture was run by Dr. Daniel Serwer, who has had a well-established diplomatic career and is currently a senior research professor and senior fellow at the centre for transatlantic relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Dr. Serwer allowed our brains to wander through the sea of conflict/post-conflict situations while examining the Framework model. An imIMG_0040portant highlight in our day was the mention that within the current Framework, the notion of a justice system does not take into account tribal systems of justice, which are increasingly being considered in post war reconstruction efforts. The session also included a mini simulation of segments of the Syrian situation taking into account the regime and opposition demands and intended actions on various elements of the Framework. All in all, the day left a lot to ponder. An incredible way to start the symposium!

Categories: The Hague 2013 Tags:

Breaking Through, Musings on First Contact in an International Symposium

July 23rd, 2013 Comments off

Troy Powell, Canada

IMG_0166On day one of the IPSI symposium on Post Conflict Transitions and International Justice, I was given the opportunity to take part in a fruitful discussion with people from many different countries. To explain the experience in one word, I believe “fusion” would suffice. The use of this word evinces a creative tension, an interplay if you will of disparate elements finding commonality. This process isn’t always smooth, but the end results are always transformative.

There were many sentiments shared during our intimate introductory breakout session. As I listened intently, I marvelled at how much culture informed our perceptions, our beliefs, the way we communicate but most importantly our identities, values and interests. I took the opportunity to capture some of the words spoken and placed them in a word cloud generator.

I marveled at some of the common themes that were discovered, despite our varied differences. We discussed the importance of legitimacy, structure, the true meaning of words, and the total effect of our institutions in the context of unheard voices. It was very refreshing and sobering to see. I believe these lessons will continue to illuminate and help us reflect in the following days to come.

Breaking Through (IPSI Blog)

Categories: The Hague 2013 Tags:

What Civil Resistance Can Achieve

July 18th, 2013 Comments off

SHCby SeoHyun Choi, South Korea

Suppose there are two different groups of people on the street, protesting against the authoritarian government. One of them is armed and ready to take a violent action; the other is marching with no intention to harm the police. Which one would you believe to be more powerful to overthrow the government?

It may seem like violent actions can have direct and immediate impact to make changes. Nonviolence can be seen easily oppressed or ineffective to repressive regime. Surprisingly, however, nonviolent civil resistance has been more powerful than violence, according to the session given by Dr. Erica Chenoweth. Dr. Chenoweth pointed out a couple of reasons that make nonviolent civil resistance more successful than armed insurgency. They are based on the norm that the civil society is powerful by itself. Even though a regime can sustain for the time being without support from the people, it cannot be stable in the long term. The civil society is strong as the pillar of support, which has the power to support or not.

Nonviolence gains its effectiveness when it is combined with the strength of the people. Violence may provide the people with immediate or drastic results. It may be possible to gather the people all together within a short period. However, how long will it last? Does assassination of the authoritarian leader lead to stable transition? How many participants in violence will still be there to build a new society when they complete violent actions? Nonviolent civil resistance can give answers to these questions; the quantity and quality of participation in nonviolent movements outweigh violence. In other words, the strength of the people can strongly support nonviolence for relatively long time.

While listening to the session about nonviolent civil resistance, what had happened in my own country came across my mind. South Korea achieved democracy by decades of nonviolent civil resistance. There were several moments to be monumental, 4‧19 Revolution in 1960 and August 1987 can be good examples of nonviolence. Both of them succeeded in making authoritarian governments give in through voluntary participation of the people in nonviolent civil resistance. Furthermore, in both cases, violent reaction from the regime towards students backfired and caused even more people to come out to streets and demonstrate.

Nonviolent civil resistance throughout decades per se is democratization in South Korea. It was neither easy nor smooth. Democracy was achieved upon many people’s lives and decades of period. This may be the reason that South Korea appreciates their efforts and tries to improve more.

Let’s go back to the question above; which one would be your answer?

Categories: Bologna 2013 Tags:

Bologna and The Hague – Two Symposiums a World of Learning

July 10th, 2013 Comments off

By Ruth Ratidazi Murambadoro, ZimbabweRuth

Being one of the four people that have attended both symposiums offered by IPSI, l feel overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge l am acquiring from these courses. The two courses offer very different outcomes and learning opportunities.

When l went for the Hague symposium l was a bit reserved because l did not know any one of the participants personally. But, at the Bologna Symposium I feel like am attending a family reunion, because l have been re-united with three of my Hague Symposium friends and also some IPSI staff whom l already knew. I also met new faces, whom l know will be my friends by the time the symposium ends.

My favourite topics and presenters from the Hague Symposium were Prof Dov Jacobs and Mr Charles Villa Vicencio. Prof Jacobs (Assistant Professor of International Law at the Grotius Centre for International Studies) gave us a lecture entitled “Puzzling over amnesties: defragmenting the debate for international criminal tribunals”, which dissected the role of transitional justice in conflict studies. He highlighted that it is often assumed that justice will bring deterrence and legitimacy to the society whereas reality shows no correlation between a deterring measure and respect for the measure by the receiving society. On the other hand legitimacy is problematic because it is a context based phenomena which cannot be generalized to all conflict situations. Henceforth international justice can be limiting because it does not set a policy consideration for revenging the acts of the perpetrators whereas most members of the society would be keen to see the perpetrator suffer the same way they did.

Mr Villa-Vicencio (Former National Director for the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission), deliberated on his experience with transitioning South Africa through the 1997 Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He gave clear illustrations of how South Africa’s case was unique and its model for transition should not be taken as a  “copy and paste” mechanism for other societies in transition. Therefore transitional justice mechanisms should focus on inclusivity, acknowledging past wrongs, and the role of truth and reconciliation in rebuilding broken nations.

On the other hand my favourite topics and presenters at the Bologna Symposium so far are Betty Bigombe and Joyce Neu. Ms Bigombe is a brave woman, her work in Uganda is a source of inspiration to many women in the Conflict Management field, myself included. She gave us a narration of her Face –to- Face encounter with Joseph Kony in one of thick bushes of Uganda, an experience she reckons was beyond her own abilities. Her best moments in the negotiation process with Joseph Kony was learning more about her character, which enabled her to identify features that make a good mediator:

  • Be a good listener. Through listening she managed to identify why the war would not end, e.g. corruption within the army (senior officials of the army where profiteering from the resources donated to aid ending the war).
  • To have sustainable peace one has to bring the conflicting parties to the table, negotiated settlement.
  • Watch out for infiltrators and spoilers.
  • Mediation is a personality about the person, be patient and don’t be assertive or forceful on the parties.

Prof Neu substantiated Ms Bigombe’s presentation identifying the code of conduct a good mediator must follow:

You are responsible:

  • To those you are working with on the ground i.e. relationships that you build on the ground and the implications they have on the rest of the society in that area.
  • You ought to be conscientious about consequences of your involvement.
  • To partner organisations
  • Ethical behaviour
  • Humility,and respect.

I should end by saying the classes at Bologna are still as intriguing as l had at the Hague. However, the Bologna symposium is more fascinating, because of the various simulations we do almost every day. Overall, the combination of speakers in both symposiums, is  amazing. The speakers are friendly and well knowledgeable, l still look forward to Prof Zartman and Robi Damelin.

The IPSI symposiums are the best place one can learn so much, quickly and freely. The staff at both symposiums are friendly and participants are amazing people. I am glad to have attended both symposiums. At the Hague symposium my field of study was clarified and as of now l am working on my masters project looking at the role of CSOs in post-conflict reconciliation. At the Bologna symposium my career has been consolidated, because l am getting all the practical skills l need to use when conducting my field work and anytime l am appointed a mediator.

Categories: Bologna 2013 Tags:

The Building Blocks of Peace

July 10th, 2013 Comments off

By Gianina Pellegrini, USAGininina

As much as I was looking forward to attending this symposium and knew that I needed to participate in this experience, I truly didn’t know what to expect. The first three weeks of the symposium have been filled with many wonderful learning opportunities.  The first week was led by Dr. Hopman, Michael Shipler, and Rajendra Mulmi and focused on diagnosing conflict, conflict prevention, and facilitation training. During week two, Dr. Wilbur Perlot, Betty Bigombe, and Dr. Joyce Neu taught us about conflict prevention, negotiation, and mediation.

In addition to informative lectures and interactive trainings, the first two weeks were also filled with practical simulations.  For the first group simulation, we were instructed to pretend that it was 1993 as the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was beginning to escalate. We were each assigned to be a country representative and were instructed to collectively draft a proposal for how to address the escalating conflict. For the purpose of this simulation (and the many simulations to follow), the final decision was not as important as the process by which we arrived at the decision.

We have fewer than fifty participants attending the symposium and even with our shared intelligence, vast experience, and general good-intentions, drafting a collective proposal on how to proceed in the region was challenging. Although we were eventually able to come to an agreement, it was not easy to do so: specific country/personal interests, personality conflicts, and varying communication styles made it difficult to agree on the best way in which to intervene in such a sensitive regional conflict.

Similar challenges were apparent in all the simulations that followed: when drafting a UN Resolution for establishing a Disaster Relief Organization; when negotiating a financial agreement between the Ugandan Government and the World Bank; when drafting an EU response to the conflict in Algeria; and when negotiating and drafting an intervention of the conflict in the fictitious country, the Republic of Gloccamora.

It is obvious to state that effective mediation, negotiation, and facilitation all require strong communication skills – but we all know how challenging communication can be among our families and friends. Communication is a skill and an art that requires patience and commitment. When dealing with international conflict situations, skilled communication is extremely important (and also very challenging). As Dr. Joyce Neu so clearly expressed, a good mediator must be observant, intuitive, analytical, informed, consistent, and be able to gain trust and respect from all parties involved. These qualities are imperative for any negotiation, mediation, or facilitation to be successful. And even with a skilled negotiator/mediator, successful agreements are not always achievable. After engaging in these various simulations, I have gained a greater appreciation for mediators of international conflicts and have a deeper understanding of how peace agreements are negotiated.

After peace agreements have been signed, the question then shifts to how societies engage in reconciliation—the topic we covered in the beginning of week three. Dr. Valerie Rosoux presented an honest and informative lecture on the Scope and Limitations of Reconciliation as a Peacebuilding Process. Peace scholars, practitioners, and even government officials often use this term, reconciliation, to describe the most appropriate process a society should undergo following a conflict; however, there is little consensus on what reconciliation actually is, what a reconciliation process looks like, and what (if anything) reconciliation accomplishes. We discussed at length the limitations to applying a one-size-fits-all approach to conflict reconciliation. Any true reconciliation process must recognize the diverse ways in which individuals experience trauma and the ways by which they heal.

Week three ended with presentations from representatives from the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict: Dr. Erica Chenoweth, Dr. Maciej Bartkowski, and Dr. Mary E. King. This lecture series taught about nonviolent campaigns in response to oppressive governments and unjust laws. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that nonviolent campaigns are twice as likely to succeed than violent campaigns. This statistic is promising! Conflict is inevitable. Yet, conflict does not need to be viewed negatively. In fact, conflict often elicits change, growth, and transformation. We must learn effective means to prevent violent conflict and perhaps greater education on nonviolence principles is the first step to attaining a more peaceful world.

Expecting an end to violent conflict in my lifetime is truly too idealistic. However, we must continue our work trying to prevent and effectively resolve violence conflicts. We must continue supporting people, communities, and countries as they heal from the traumatic affects caused by violence. I do believe the effort we exert today will help achieve sustainable peace for the generations to come. That is my hope.


Categories: Bologna 2013 Tags: