Regions of Focus: Cambodia, Colombia, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq
Research Theme: Humanitarian Strategies
Transitional justice refers to the range of approaches that societies moving from repressive rule or armed conflict use to deal with legacy of human rights abuse as they progress towards peace, democracy, the rule of law, and respect for individual and collective rights. HHI’s transitional justice program has two main aims: first, to provide evidence that will make existing transitional justice instruments more effective in meeting the needs and expectations of victims; and second, to explore alternative approaches to transitional justice, which go beyond the concept of a toolkit, and allow for more innovative and flexible solutions. The new paradigm would depart from a “one size fits all” approach to provide solutions tailored for people’s specific needs, aspirations, and priorities.
Evaluation of the Colombian Victims Unit
In partnership with the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, HHI designed and carried out a household-level survey in December 2014 on key aspects of victims’ experience with the Colombian Victims’ Unit (Unidad para las Víctimas, or UV) reparations and assistance system and on victims’ perceptions on issues of trust in institutions, rule of law and recovery from the conflict. The survey found that while the Colombian reparation program is both admirable and ambitious, victims often do not have a full understanding of who receives reparations and through what process they are awarded. The lack of clarity undermines the overall effectiveness of the reparations program since recognition of victimhood is fundamental. Lastly, results show that the Victims Unit must strengthen its outreach and communication strategies and build victims’ confidence in the program in order to meet the high expectations set by victims. Phuong Pham, HHI’s lead researcher on the study, traveled to Colombia in August 2015 to present the findings in an in-person meeting with President Juan Manuel Santos along with fellow researchers from the Carr Center.
Monitoring and Evaluation of Victim Participation at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)
At the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the participation of victims has been seen as crucial to the successful prosecution of those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Yet, little attention has been paid to the experience of victims as they participate in court proceedings. HHI’s ongoing victim participation research offers a voice to the victims of mass crimes through a unique empirical research on their perspectives in international criminal tribunals.