Transitional Justice (Part 57): Six-Pillar of Transitional Justice

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 22 Apr 2024

Bishnu Pathak, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

Abstract

Transitional justice is to address past atrocities by bridging the gap between old and new regimes during democratic transitions. It signifies the shift from conflict to peace and political reforms through peaceful means. Its goal is to prevent the recurrence of human rights violations by the state and abuses by non-state actors (Pathak, 2005). The state-of-the-art paper proposes a departure from the traditional four-pillar transitional justice model, instead rationalizing the confluence of six pillars: truth, vetting, reparation, prosecution, guarantee of non-recurrence, and justice policies. The main objective is to assist learners grasp the various pillars of transitional justice with a focus on justice for victims and ensuring accountability for perpetrators. The archival research method relies on primary, secondary, and tertiary information, using snow-ball techniques. Truth entails the right of victims to know the circumstances surrounding violations and abuses, including who, why, how, by whom, from where, and when human rights were violated and abused. Accused individuals have the right to access information filed against them, the right to present their side of the story, the right to an effective investigation, and the right to a defense of innocence. Vetting is the process of conducting background checks on individuals before making decisions related to hiring, promotion, and transfers. It is a process used by both employees and employers to identify, manage, and mitigate security risks. Reparation is a form of compensation provided by the state to address victims’ psychological, material, physical, and emotional harms, including livelihood support such as cash and kind assistance. It encompasses relief compensation, restitution, rehabilitation, satisfaction, and memorialization. Prosecution is to prevent individuals from engaging in unlawful retaliation and uphold the rule of law. It is a direct way of holding accountable those responsible for the crimes they have committed in the past. Non-recurrence is to focus on institutional reforms that ensure guarantees of non-repetition at the state, semi-public institutions, and societal levels. Justice is truthful, fair, impartial, and just behavior. It guides distributive, retributive, and restorative justice efforts in transitional justice. This paper presents the 57th series of the author’s theoretical work on transitional justice, based on the principle of “I know that I do not know” or “I am simply a student for this study,” allowing for ongoing refinement.

Introduction

Transitional justice theory is a crucial element in understanding the process of transitioning from conflict to peace. It encompasses a set of ideas that help comprehend information, facts, and events involving grave human rights violations and violations of humanitarian law in a post-conflict situation. Theory is a rational science that aids in understanding phenomena. Transitional justice is a relatively new concept. Some Western thinkers have associated their studies with the four-point theory or pillars of transitional justice policies: truth, reparation, prosecution or criminal justice, and guarantees of non-repetition (American Friends Service Committee, August 2011; Hayner, October 24, 2022; SIDA, December 2020; OHCHR, July 2023; United Nations, March 2010; and A/HRC/50/40/Add.4, June 8, 2022). However, in a poor, developing, and post-conflict country plagued by ideology-and-identity-based conflict, these four pillars may not be sufficient. Here, solutions are often sought through the court system, which unfortunately lacks autonomy, impartiality, fearlessness, and independence. Verdicts are frequently biased favoring the elite and offering immunity to the privileged while neglecting the voices, sufferings, and rights of the poor. Often, the court’s decisions lean towards the elite providing implementation of acts for the poor and immunity for the wealthy and powerful ones (Thulalai chain, sanalai ain).  A closer look at the world’s transitional justice bodies reveals that victims are often poor while perpetrators are powerful and wealthy. Many alleged perpetrators have the ability to influence victims, courts, and justice bodies. Therefore, the world’s transitional justice system ironically grants immunity to perpetrators, further limiting justice for victims (Pathak, July 30, 2018). This article is part of the series Transitional Justice (Part 56): Rohingya the Voiceless, Stateless Refugees (https://www.transcend.org/tms/2024/03/transitional-justice-part-56-rohingya-the-voiceless-stateless-refugees/). The author has already published 55 articles on transitional justice covering various countries previously (Pathak, October 2019).

In countries like Nepal, as well as in many post-conflict nations around the world, progress with truth investigations and judicial proceedings is proving to be incredibly challenging. In the current global landscape, with the adoption of the policy of human security in a broader sense alongside human rights, it seems that only a six-pillar transitional justice policy can ensure both the judicial and non-judicial components of accountability from victims to perpetrators. Transitional justice bodies, such as Truth Commissions have often failed to attain both judicial and non-judicial accountability as they were unable to uphold all six-point theory or pillars of truth-seeking, achieving justice, delivering reparations, vetting for state accountability, prosecuting proven perpetrators, and implementing institutional reform policies (guarantee of non-recurrence) policies (Pathak, March 18, 2024 & 2017; nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/blog/148467-1525946880.html).

First, truth-seeking is a process of gathering, finding, and assessing conflict-related information through the network tracking method of questioning and answering prioritizing impartiality, fairness, neutrality, and honesty. It involves engaging with survivors, complainants, witnesses, and accused individuals, who were directly involved in the armed conflict. Second, justice is an act of ethical judgment process that must be carried out fairly, freely, impartially, properly, and reasonably. It involves putting the victims at its core in order to hold the perpetrators accountable, reconcile conflict-affected people, and ensure that they adhere to political, legal, economic, social, and cultural rights according to national and international human rights standards.

Third, reparation is the act of satisfying individuals who have been wronged during a conflict by providing payment or other necessary assistance as compensation. Furthermore, reparation involves acknowledging and addressing the causes and consequences, such as grievances, pains, and sufferings, of the victims and survivors. Fourth, vetting is the process used to prevent employees and alleged perpetrators who have been involved in human rights violations from being promoted, to exert pressure to have them removed from their current professions, and holding public positions in the future.

Fifth, prosecution is the authorization that allows legal action to be taken against alleged defendants in accordance with the Constitution and the civil law inquiry system. This means that the prosecution representing the state authority as a prosecutor is the legal party responsible for presenting a criminal case against a person accused of violating the legal system. Lastly, institutional reform is the necessary step to be taken by the state to provide assurance to its citizens and prevent the recurrence of such conflicts in the future by identifying the root-causes of armed conflict or political violence. This is also known as the guarantees of non-repetition or non-recurrence.

The politico-legal aspects of transitional justice are a complex final stage in conflict transformation (Pathak, 2020). Post-conflict nations around the world that initiate truth investigations and judicial proceedings are proving to be incredibly challenging (Pathak, August 2021). Transitional justice encompasses much like two sides of the same coin: truth-seeking and judicial accountability (Pathak, 2016 & July 2019). Transitional justice now also recognizes the rights of survivors, families, societies, and international communities (Pathak, May 18, 2015) and holding perpetrators accountable to address past atrocities (Pathak, August 29, 2015).

The study of transitional justice aims to empower victims, their families, their representatives, and related institutions by providing comprehensive and accurate dissemination, discussion, engagement, and exchange within the affected community and individuals. The main objective of this paper is to demonstrate how foundational pillars of transitional justice can facilitate the work of truth-seeking commissions in bringing justice to victims and holding perpetrators accountable.

The study utilizes nearly three decades of personal experiences, participant observation, and secondary sources of information, including various books, reports, journals, reviews, and articles. The secondary information led to a networking tracking method following archival research. The Generation of Transitional Justice in the World (July 2019) has been a primary source of information in completing the study. The required information was collected, reviewed, analyzed, and lessons were drawn from the past (yesterday), understanding the pillars of transitional justice policy in the present (today), and fostering hope for ensuring justice for victims and survivors, as well as holding perpetrators accountable for the future (tomorrow).

The overall objective of the study is to produce a reference guide that assists learners in familiarizing themselves with various pillars of transitional justice pillar with justice, reconciliation, peace, and harmony at its core. Through this guide, learners will improve their investigative skills, gain insights into various perspectives, cultivate an appreciation for different viewpoints, sharpen critical thinking abilities, and compare global philosophical and practical perspectives on transitional justice.

The pioneering philosophy of the transitional justice pillar is pursued in accordance with the principles of universality, indivisibility, non-derogation, inherent, interdependence, and interrelatedness. The necessary information and literature are gathered through networking tracking methods, snowball techniques, and exchanges and discussions with relevant institutions and experts.

The study primarily relies on primary, secondary, and tertiary sources, as well as archival literature reviews to draw lessons from the past, understand the axiomatic truth of the present, and foster hope in sharing the epistemology of the transitional justice pillar for the future. This groundbreaking work is prepared through the exchange and sharing of personal experiences, rather than relying solely on theoretical conception.

Recognizing that repeating the same reference materials multiple times can be cumbersome for readers and take up unnecessary space in the study, the author has deliberately avoided using duplicate or triplicate citations for the references.

Truth

The goal of truth-seeking, story-telling, or truth/story-recording is to identify and evaluate information and testimonies received from survivors, complainants, witnesses, and accused persons through participant observation. It also aims to determine details such as who was disappeared, abducted, murdered, tortured, detained in solitary confinement, and humiliated or harassed. Additionally, it involves understanding by whom, how, why, from where, and when those actions took place.

In all aspects of life, people gain a clearer understanding of how humans handle relationships by evaluating the information that comes across our newsfeeds and gathering insights into social, political, and legal issues.  Seeking the truth is important when people act out of frustration and anger. Being willing to seek the truth means putting in the hard work and not wasting energy or emotion on blindly accepting information. It involves critically assessing our preconceived notions and choosing the most reliable sources of information and beliefs (Arizona State University, Undated).

The objective of truth-seeking is to investigate past human rights violations and abuses, both judicially and extrajudicially, addressing and appropriating healing for the negative effects of conflict. This approach adopts and emphasizes measures to end the state of impunity by holding the guilty accountable, providing compensation to conflicted affected individuals, regardless of their status, and ensuring rights of both perpetrator and the victim to ensure accountability, justice, and compensation (Poudel, 2020).

Additionally, truth-seeking is conducted to create an atmosphere of harmony in society to prevent repetition of such atrocities, and to take corrective actions for the safety of all. This process upholds the principles of the rule of law, democracy, harmony, and peace, rather than seeking revenge politics. It aims to foster a conducive environment in all families, societies, regions, and nations that assist in facilitating the healing of wounds and the development of a sense of reconciliation. Those responsible for human rights violations are held accountable, and victims are provided with necessary treatment, reparation, relief support, and psychosocial counseling.

Truth-seeking and truth-story-telling initiatives can have a powerful role in documenting and acknowledging human rights violations and abuses. Truth-telling (memory) initiatives contribute to the public understanding of past breaches (ICTC, Undated). International law clearly recognizes the “right to know about the circumstances of serious violations of victims’ human rights and about who was responsible” (ICTC, Undated).

Through truth-seeking and truth-telling processes, the justice bodies in a country are able to investigate past violations or crimes and seek reparation and compensation support for victims and their families. These investigations do not simply identify guilty parties -individuals or perpetrators-, but also examine root causes and consequences such as patterns of grievances and suffering, as well as their social impact. This includes extrajudicial killings, cruel and inhumane treatment, arbitrary arrest, detention, solitary confinement, and enforced disappearances.

Truth-story-telling purposes to create a lasting public impact by revealing the truths and facts of violations, pain, and suffering. Victims, survivors, and perpetrators are encouraged to provide their statements for the record, regardless of their feelings towards the accused or each other, and regardless of whether they are seeking reconciliation.

People have the right to know the truth. Victims affected by past atrocities have the right to know and the right to an effective investigation to identify alleged perpetrators, in accordance with the rights of the accused. The accused person also has the right to information, the right to tell the truth, the right to an effective investigation, and the right to a defense of innocence.

Vetting

Vetting is a new and debated concept that is being applied in post-conflict countries around the world. The purpose of the vetting process is to reinstate public trust in the concerned institution’s ability to deliver justice and ensure it aligns with the law. Vetting aims to establish an independent justice body to monitor and provide accurate information to the public and assist the institution (Agalliu, 2023).

It is remarkable that the issue of vetting has received little attention from relevant authorities internationally. The vetting process has been poorly managed, conducted unfairly, marred by partiality, and characterized improperly. Those in authority who wield power are satisfied with achieving their own desires. Another serious issue arises when someone close to a person in authority is removed or not promoted from their positions, leading the authority figure to feel vulnerable. Due to the widespread prevalence of a culture of impunity, public servants who are identified as guilty are often promoted and rewarded instead of being removed from their positions.

Public involvement, transparency, accountability, and efficacy of integrity (Coyne and Bartram, 2002) enhance public trust when decision-making institutions seek to hold accountable those involved in past crimes against individuals or victims. Vetting involves investigating and evaluating individuals, whether they are accused persons or potential employees, before making decisions, about hiring, promotion, or transfer by any institution or company (Slobogin, 2003).

Countries transitioning from authoritarian rule to a new democratic system through armed conflict face difficulties in deciding how to address public officials and security personnel who have committed serious human rights violations and the institutional structures that enabled such abuses to take place.

Vetting processes are used to evaluate individuals’ integrity and suitability for public positions, ensuring adherence to human rights standards (https://www.ictj.org/our-work/research/vetting). Many post-conflict countries undergoing democratic transitions, conflict transformation by peaceful means, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, as well as security sector reform often employ these procedures to exclude incompetent individuals from the civil and security services.

The vetting process aids both employees and employers in identifying, managing, and mitigating risks in various aspects such as jobs, society, information, and systems. It acts as a trust-building tool between employers and employees, enabling discussions on risk management through dialogue and obtaining security clearance (Slobogin, 2003). The vetting process is conducted by the United Kingdom Security Vetting, which is a part of the Cabinet Office Government Security Group and the Government Security Function (United Kingdom Security Vetting, February 20, 2024) before hiring or promotion.

International human rights instruments, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights safeguard individuals’ fundamental freedoms and rights, including the right to a fair trial and due process of law.

Vetting is a process that promotes legal reform and accountability within both judicial and non-judicial systems. It upholds the rule of law, protects, promotes, and safeguards individuals’ rights within democratic frameworks in state to societies and communities. Vetting also assesses power separation, efficacy, legitimacy, and fairness in achieving justice.

Reparation

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, reparation is defined as repairing or keeping in repair to provide satisfaction for a wrong or injury (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reparation). In general, the English word reparation is derived from repair, damage, obligation to the wrongdoer party, and legal obligation. Traditionally, the wrongdoer is required to make repairs.

Reparations have a long history of involving cash or in-kind payments of goods or commodities. Even after World War II, Germany had to pay reparations to the Allied victors to compensate them for their losses in the war (study.com/academy/lesson/reparations-definition-overview.htm).

The purpose of reparation is to address psychological, physical, and material harms, and provide justice to the victims. It dispenses justice by addressing past harm or damage, recognizing victims as both citizens and victims in society, creating a collective memory that represents reality, requesting remedies for violations and damages, establishing the trust of the victims towards the State, making the State bear its legal obligations, restoring social dignity and rights, and providing physical rehabilitation (CIEDP, Undated).

It is the duty and responsibility of the state to provide reparation to victims. The reparation as compensation provided by the state should address the psychological, material, and physical harm suffered by the victims. Reparation includes not only relief compensation but also restitution, rehabilitation, memorialization, and satisfaction.

Restitution means the measures taken to return the victim to the previous situation. This includes actions such as returning the victim’s citizenship rights to their property, occupation, work, facilities, etc. Compensation is a measure aimed at reducing the suffering of the victim. This includes not only financial loss but also physical, mental, and emotional injuries. Rehabilitation includes social, medical, psychological, and legal treatments. Satisfaction includes measures to end the violence and verification, official apology, and restoring the dignity of the victim.

The features of reparation include compensation given under the administrative program, physical reparation, symbolic reparation, individual reparation, collective reparation, and psychosocial counseling.

Reparation aims to restore the situation to its state prior to a human rights violation (Robins, December 2016). It provides interim relief for victims, including those of torture and rape, and ensures the rights of families of victims of enforced disappearances (Human Rights Watch, March 5, 2024 and Bhandari, May 13, 2018). Reparation is not merely a policy, but an obligation arising from an unlawful breach of international and domestic law during a conflict, where the state must respect, protect, and fulfill victims’ rights to reparation (International Alert, August 2020 and Sharma, October 2019).

A comprehensive reparation policy requires signoff and a commitment of financial and human resources (Naughton, April 26, 2018). Victims have the right to full and effective reparations, including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction, and guarantees of non-recurrence (UNOHCHR, May 21, 2014).

Generally speaking, reparation is a remedy for the suffering or damage experienced by a victim as a result of a serious violation of national law and international humanitarian law or human rights law. It is the national and international obligations to provide victims of serious violations of international human rights with prompt and effective redress. Complementarity within transitional justice encourages a victim-centered approach. Furthermore, the state must respect and protect the human rights of its citizens and provide redress, justice, and reparation for violations of those rights.

There are several provisions for reparations under international humanitarian and human rights law. These include, Article 3 of the Hague Convention Concerning International Humanitarian Law 1899 and 1907, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance 2010, Article 19 of the Declaration on the Protection of All Forms of Disappeared Persons 1992, Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, Article 2.3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966, and Articles 14 and 24 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 1984, and Articles 24 (4 & 5).

Reparation is an important measure to support the livelihood of those affected by past conflicts, which often breached the norms and principles of human rights and humanitarian law. It typically focuses on addressing grievances, pains, and sufferings of the victims and survivors in society who have been impacted by armed conflict, political violence, unjust legacies of dictatorship, imperialism, political violence, colonization, apartheid, racial discrimination, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Prosecution

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines prosecution as the act or process of holding a trial against a person accused of a crime to determine guilt (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prosecution). The Britannica Dictionary also states that prosecution is the act or process of holding a trial against a person accused of a crime to establish guilt (www.britannica.com/dictionary/prosecution).

The primary responsibility is to operate domestic courts for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and other serious human rights violations. International or “hybrid” courts (consisting of national and international judges) should be considered if domestic courts are unable or unwilling to conduct effective investigations and prosecutions.

The International Criminal Court was established in The Hague in 1998 to try individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed after July 2002. Hybrid courts have been established in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, East Timor, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia. Perpetrators of serious crimes under international human rights and international law should not be granted amnesties based on a peace agreement (OHCHR, April 12, 2007).

Prosecution is the most direct form of accountability and responsibility for criminal offenses or serious human rights violations. It is most effective when there are independent, autonomous, impartial, and credible courts available at the national, international, or hybrid level to conduct trials. Strong political will sustains prosecutions, but this commitment often lacks when perpetrators or their partners hold power.

Prosecution requires substantial time and financial investment to conclude crimes of individual perpetrators. Successful prosecutions make the strongest statement against impunity and signal to victims that the new government is willing to break cleanly with an offensive past (United States Institute of Peace, September 2008).

Fair trials based on norms and principles of human rights must protect the rights of alleged perpetrators to a defense, the right to a lawyer, and the right to analyze testimonies against them. The prosecution primarily focuses on the role of the accused individuals, and secondarily on the witnesses. On the other hand, the way evidence is collected, interpreted in court, and the extent to which judges make decisions that are free, fair, and practical all depend on personal sensitivity, including the analysis of the case. Victims and witnesses often feel insecure about participating in politically sensitive and social harm trials. In many cases, the trial has heard from several of the prosecution’s witnesses rather than the victims’ witnesses.

Non-Recurrence

Ensuring non-recurrence following periods of armed conflict or widespread human rights violations is a crucial responsibility of states and a fundamental aspect of transitional justice (Michalowski, Undated). Non-recurrence means that such events do not happen repeatedly. In the aftermath of conflict, guarantees of non-recurrence play a crucial role in preventing future human rights violations, upholding the rule of law, and promoting peace, progress and development. Non-recurrence, also referred to as institutional reforms or guarantees of non-repetition, encompasses state and semi-public institutions, and societal levels. It includes constitutional reform, security sector reform, and justice initiatives (OHCHR, Undated).

Furthermore, it aims to strengthen the role of civil society, civil society actors, excluded and vulnerable minorities, and empower women and girls, while promoting national and international human rights standards to protect and ensure the rule of law. Similarly, guarantees of non-recurrence involve judicial independence, civilian control of security forces and civil servants, empowerment of law enforcement agencies through human rights and international humanitarian law training, and provision of psychological and social services. It safeguards against the repetition of initial human rights violations (Shala, September 3, 2018).

The primary objective of institutional reform is to prevent the recurrence of conflict in the future. To achieve this, it is essential to transform various aspects, including political, legal, economic, social, and cultural dimensions ensuring fairness and impartiality. The concept of guaranteeing non-recurrence of conflict, which is an important part of transitional justice, is somewhat different from the concept of reparation. While reparation is connected to providing some forms of compensation, the guarantee of non-recurrence of conflict focuses on preventing future conflicts and addressing the root causes of it.

The UN Working Group has defined non-recurrence of conflict as not just about individual victims, but also about implementing institutional reforms to prevent similar conflicts from happening in the future. The institutional reforms address the military being under the control of a sovereign civilian government, the need for an independent judiciary, promoting public service delivery, conducting timely legislation review, and creating a mechanism to monitor social progress. The government should involve the youth in meaningful income-generating activities.

Similarly, political instability must be put to an end. A conducive environment for the dignity of an independent judiciary without political interference on appointments, court judgments and orders must be obeyed and implemented. The expensive justice system should be abolished in favor of speedy justice. A reliable system of social justice and security should be provided.

People’s participation in government activities should be enhanced. Inequality, exclusion, and discrimination should be eradicated. Additionally, political commitment and administrative accuracy should be increased to establish mechanisms for pre-intervention and management of social conflicts. The effective monitoring and evaluation system of every plan and program should be strengthened.

Justice

Why is it necessary for people to revisit the topic of justice within the framework of transitional justice? Transitional justice is a comprehensive approach that not only addresses justice itself, but also encompasses issues that have been previously reviewed, discussed, and analyzed. It differs from regular justice in that it focuses on providing justice to victims and holding perpetrators of conflicts that occurred within a specific period of time accountable. The focus of the study is on transitional justice alone, rather than holistic justice. This means that justice within transitional justice is connected to both formal and informal justice systems.

Justice means being truthful, fair, impartial, and just behavior. It involves ensuring that those who commit injustices face legal consequences, providing restitution to victims, and holding the accused accountable for their past actions or atrocities. Different societies may have varying interpretations of justice based on their social structures, understanding, attitudes, culture, and legal systems or practices. However, at its core, justice is about upholding the truth, delivering impartial and speedy fair judgment, and following the legal processes established by society as a whole as well as national and international human rights standards.

In a broad sense, justice is the concept that individuals are to be treated in a manner that is equitable, impartial, and fair judgment (Moore, December 22, 2021). Socrates assumes that justice is a treasured part of a good human life (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, September 12, 2017). Plato contended, “Justice is the quality of soul… set aside the irrational desire to taste every pleasure and to get a selfish satisfaction… justice consists in speaking the truth and paying one’s debt” (Bhandari, Undated). Aristotle says that justice is the distribution of divisible goods (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlfilh9gv0M). It is no less than distributive justice in transitional justice.

Retributive and restorative justices are commonly discussed in the context of transitional justice. Retributive justice involves legal punishment that requires offenders to be punished in proportion to their crimes. It is not personal, but rather focuses solely on the wrongdoing, has inherent limitations, does not derive pleasure from the suffering of others, and adheres to procedural norms (Nozick, 1981).  Restorative justice focuses on 6Rs of reinsertion, resettlement, rehabilitation, reconciliation, reintegration, and reparation (Pathak & Bastola, 2022).

Investigate the truth about individuals involved in serious violations of human rights, such as atrocities, war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity during armed conflict. Seek justice and reparations for victims, hold perpetrators accountable to justice, and implement a review process, institutional reform, and reconciliation between victims and perpetrators. Transitional justice commissions are often established for short-term purposes in post-conflict transitions globally.

Justice is understood to be timely, consistent, fair, and impartial in the expression of truth. Justice aims to provide a sense of self-satisfaction, and closure to the victim by allowing them to feel that they have received some form of retribution for past injustices to see tangible results, and to raise awareness within society. For victims, receiving justice means obtaining their inherent, fundamental rights as individuals. It is crucial to recognize that these rights are universal and inalienable.

Conclusion

Transitional justice refers to the gap or connection between the old authoritarian regime and the new system of government. This implies that there is a transitional period during which the constitution, laws, and regulations of the old state system have not been completely abolished, and the new legal measures have not yet been fully developed and endorsed by the concerned state authority.

Transitional justice is the final stage of the peace process and introduces a new concept. While negotiators, mediators, and facilitators involved in the peace process are well-versed in negotiation principles and application, they may have less knowledge about transitional justice. Therefore, further studies on this topic have become increasingly important. This importance can only be addressed through a six-pillar policy that leads to a successful conclusion. This policy is grounded in the state’s local civil law context, justice for the victims, holding perpetrators accountable, and the principles of international human rights standards.If transitional justice leads to victim-centered justice and perpetrator centered accountability, it is the correct course of action to achieve the six-pillar policy for peace. In essence, transitional justice aims to provide justice to victims first, followed by holding accused persons responsible. Similarly, investigations into human rights violations or abuses place the accused individuals at the center, leading to punishment and vetting processes for many of them. The investigation process begins with uncovering the truth. Truth is a state of being that reflects realities, facts, and events. It is the opposite of a false statement.  The four pillars of justice are victims, perpetrators, national laws, and international instruments. According to justice, the victim and the perpetrator are two sides of the same coin. The root of the word victim is associated with the accused, and perpetrator aligns with the victim. The victim and the perpetrator should be viewed from the perspective of national and international law. Of course, transitional justice is not only covered by national, regional, and local laws. This subject is also covered by international human rights standards and humanitarian law. Transitional justice is directly linked to the government’s attitude, political system, existing laws, the victim’s passion or emotion, and the perpetrator’s violent attitude and behavior. In the early days, transitional justice was seen only in connection with the victim’s family, but gradually it has broadened its scope according to the changing times. Transitional justice has become a common question and voice of the world today through community, society, institution, region, national and international, rising above the victims’ families. In terms of providing justice to the victims, the United Nations has also established the International Criminal Court and has been conducting its work since 2002.

Justice transcends all socio-cultural divisions. It rises above caste, ethnicity, skin color, social class or prestige, profession, and ideology. It is beyond individuality and social hierarchy. Justice takes precedence over family, class, relationships, and intimacy. It holds more importance than being a good neighbor or community member. Justice surpasses society, nationality, religion, and culture. It is superior to punishment and crosses language, gender, and boundaries. Justice rises above politics, all ideologies, and thoughts. It is a universal principle that should guide our policies, actions, and decisions, regardless of any other factor. Therefore, justice is about being just, righteous, lawful, free, fair, impartial, non-hierarchical, and equitable. Illustrative forms of justice stand above all, which are mentioned below separately.

Justice is above caste.

Justice is above ethnicity.

Justice is blind to skin color.

Justice is above social class.

Justice is above any profession.

Justice is above all positions.

Justice is above any person.

Justice takes precedence over family.

Justice is more important than any relationship.

Justice prioritizes superiority over intimacy.

Justice is above being a good neighbor.

Justice is above the community.

Justice is above society.

Justice is above nationality.

Justice is above religion.

Justice is above culture.

Justice is superior to punishment.

Justice transcends language.

Justice transcends gender.

Justice transcends boundaries.

Justice is above politics.

Justice is above all thoughts.

Justice is above ideology.

Justice is impartial.

Justice is free.

Justice is fair and just.

Justice is for all.

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_______________________________________________

Prof. Bishnu Pathak was a former Senior Commissioner at the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP), Nepal who has been a Noble Peace prize nominee 2013-2019 for his noble finding of Peace-Conflict Lifecycle similar to the ecosystem. A Board Member of the TRANSCEND Peace University holds a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary Conflict Transformation and Human Rights in two decades. Arduous Dr. Pathak who is an author of over 100 international paper-book publications has been used as references in more than 100 countries across the globe. Immense versatile personality Dr. Pathak’s publications belong to Human Rights, Human Security, Peace, Conflict Transformation, and Transitional Justices among others. He can be reached at ciedpnp@gmail.com.


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One Response to “Transitional Justice (Part 57): Six-Pillar of Transitional Justice”

  1. George Chidiebere Iheanacho says:

    Thank you for outlining the six pillars of transitional justice. They are vital for moving beyond conflict and victimization to pursue peace after violence. However, in uncovering/seeking the truth and applying other aspects of transitional justice, I believe one crucial component is perpetrators/victims acknowledging their actions during the conflict. Does this acknowledgment factor into the pillars of transitional justice?

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