On Solid Ground: Building Sustainable Peace and Development After Massive Human Rights Violations

The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ)

This report articulates the contributions of transitional justice to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 16 on peace, justice, and inclusion, and related goals on gender and inequality (SDG16+). The primary argument is that in contexts of serious and massive human rights violations, sustainable peace and development will be more attainable if societies effectively pursue justice for those violations. Transitional justice provides a framework for addressing the needs of victims and helping to reduce the “justice gap”—that is, the failure to provide justice to people and communities outside the protection of the law—in such extraordinary circumstances.

Focusing on prevention, the report makes the case that transitional justice can foster trust in institutions and among people and groups; strengthen rule of law and access to justice; help to transform gender inequalities; and reduce inequality, marginalization, and corruption. It emphasizes a problem-solving approach to transitional justice, which requires context-specific and locally led innovation, the meaningful participation of victims, and balancing a concern for political settlements and stability with the aim of maximizing long-term change. It also describes the critical role of the international community.

The recommendations that resulted from this analysis are ultimately targeted to United Nations (UN) members states participating in the 2019 UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. The report is the product of the deliberations of the Working Group on Transitional Justice and SDG16+. An earlier working draft of the report was submitted to the Task Force on Justice. The methodology the Task Force used to prepare its final report—including taking peoplecentered approaches, gathering relevant data, and proposing evidence-based solutions to justice problems—is one that is relevant to and should inform transitional justice.

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