Coordination with other sectors

Coordination between various actors involved in, connected to and affected by transitional justice is important (Edwards, 2013). There often remains a disconnect between those focusing on transitional justice objectives and strategies and other humanitarian and development interventions (Thoms et al., 2010; World Bank, 2012). For example, while the ICC seeks to challenge the power of perpetrators, this may not be the goal of development and humanitarian organisations. Moreover, this aim of the ICC could deepen violence on the ground and affect the work of the other development and humanitarian actors (Balasco, 2013). Efforts to improve the relationship between the ICC and humanitarian and development organisations on the ground could allow for better assessment of how the work of the Court could affect human security and the larger field of post-conflict reconstruction (Balasco, 2013).

Various specific sectors are linked to transitional justice. Two examples are disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) and education. DDR often takes place alongside transitional justice initiatives in conflict-affected societies. It typically involves dismantling the command structures of armed groups and reducing the size of fighting forces and the number of weapons in circulation. Ex-combatants are either assisted to return to civilian life, with reintegration packages including cash or non-monetary benefits such as vocational training or counselling, or merged into new national security forces (de Vries & van Veen, 2010; Muggah, 2010).

Despite the traditional segmentation of transitional justice and DDR in research and practice, there are various ways in which DDR and transitional justice processes and mechanisms overlap and could be designed to benefit the other (see Haider, 2011a). DDR processes are often challenged by commanders or warlords who refuse to disarm and demobilise and constrain their combatants from doing so. In such circumstances, prosecutions of these spoilers and their removal from the situation could allow for the DDR of the combat unit or group (Patel, 2009a; Witte, 2009). In the case of lower-level combatants, targeted amnesties (or reduced penalties) for crimes of a political nature, such as treason and rebellion, can serve as an incentive for participation in DDR programmes (Bryden et al., 2005; Duthie, 2005; Patel, 2009a). The distribution of DDR benefits can also be made conditional on an ex‐combatant not being suspected of or charged with committing human rights abuses (Sriram & Herman, 2009). They can also be made conditional on participation in or cooperation with transitional justice measures (Duthie, 2005; Patel, 2009b; Sriram & Herman, 2009). 

Education is another sector for which there have been recent calls for more systematic consideration of its relationship with transitional justice. The account of past harms that emerges from transitional justice initiatives, such as truth commissions and trials, could be incorporated into formal history textbooks. Currently, there is a lack of coordination between these two processes (Cole & Barsalou, 2006). In addition, truth commissions have often produced findings about the role of education in contributing to conflict, and offered recommendations on its reform and on the development of a curriculum that teaches the recent past and fosters a culture of peace (Ramírez-Barat & Duthie, 2015). Incorporating the findings of truth commissions into curricula has been challenging, however. In South Africa, for example, despite a truth commission recommendation to introduce human rights into the curricula, no action was taken (UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre & ICTJ, 2010).

Education can more broadly be viewed as part of a societal response to the legacies of mass violence, in terms of engaging younger generations in a dialogue about the past, reforming the education system from a human rights perspective, fostering social cohesion and incorporating lessons from transitional justice processes into educational curriculum (Ramírez-Barat & Duthie, 2015). Educational tools are also important in extending outreach to youth and engaging them in transitional justice processes. As part of its outreach strategy, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, for example, had primary school students visit the court and court officials visit classes in schools. Given these linkages, it would be beneficial to bring educators and transitional justice actors together early in the processes. Transitional justice initiatives should also consider incorporating an educational mandate in their work (Ramírez-Barat & Duthie, 2015).

For further discussion on education and transitional justice, see the sections on outreach and gender and youth.