The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience guides members in gold-standard documentation of past human rights atrocities and struggles for justice, and in applying history’s lessons to nurture civil society and prevent those abuses from recurring. In post-conflict regions, Sites of Conscience are trusted organizations and spaces that address the needs of communities transitioning from conflict. The Coalition hallmark – bridging judicial and non-judicial processes, including truth-telling and memorialization – seeks to promote just and sustainable peace in countries in transition by engaging local civil society organizations, survivors and governments in a participatory and inclusive manner.
The Coalition’s transitional justice work began almost ten years ago when members from post-conflict countries in Africa and Asia realized the need for local-level truth, justice and reconciliation efforts to support transitional justice processes. Through memory and memorialization programs, the Coalition began to respond to local needs, filling the gaps left by the limited timeframes and scope of formal transitional justice and judicial mechanisms.
The Global Initiative for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation (GIJTR) – a flagship program of the Coalition – is a Consortium of nine organizations that together serve as a new mechanism to respond in a multi-disciplinary and integrated manner to the transitional justice needs of societies emerging from conflict or periods of authoritarian rule. The partners, selected by the Coalition for their geographic diversity as well as a wide range of expertise, respond to transitional justice needs as a Consortium in a holistic and integrated manner. The Coalition formulated the Consortium mandate as a direct outgrowth of the needs and gaps identified by respective communities. These local priorities were communicated to the Coalition in the context of the deep ties and broad trust we have earned among local individuals and organizations. In the two years since the launch of the initiative, the Coalition and the Consortium have engaged 15 countries and over 240 local civil society organizations in building capacities and laying the groundwork for community-wide participation in both formal and community-based transitional justice processes. To see a list of the partners, click here.
By sharing ground-breaking models, emphasizing peer learning, and placing local communities at the center of their projects, the GIJTR builds a transitional justice community of local populations, practitioners, and policy makers that support the Coalition’s core values of dignity, respect, inclusion and transparency. Examples of GIJTR programs:
Middle East and North Africa Transitional Justice Academy
Consortium partners in collaboration with regional transitional justice experts Al Kawakibi Democracy Transition Center, or KADEM (http://www.kawakibi.org/), is building the capacity of activists, practitioners, academics and non-traditional actors from countries including Tunisia, Morocco, Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Syria. The MENA Transitional Justice Academy provides participants with training, financial support, and opportunities to develop and launch truth, justice and reconciliation projects in their home communities with a focus on local needs.
South Sudan Human Rights Documentation Initiative
The South Sudan HRDI utilizes a range of transitional justice tools to enhance capacity at the local level. Central to its operation is supporting South Sudanese civil society in determining how to hold perpetrators accountable, how to ensure justice for victims of the conflict, and how to rebuild a culture of human rights and democracy.
Truth, Justice and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka: Coming to Terms with the Past
This project addresses the reconciliation and accountability needs of Sri Lanka, with a particular focus on missing persons, through local and high-level consultations and participatory needs assessments, workshops and funding to provide targeted technical assistance to the government of Sri Lanka (GSL) in transitional justice policy and practice. Partners are engaged in trust-building between stakeholders and GIJTR partners, and will continue to undertake activities to complement and support government transitional justice activities.
Syrian Survivors of Torture Initiative
GIJTR partners undertook an assessment to better understand the needs of Syrian survivors of torture and develop a reparations framework to ensure that survivors’ needs and the issue of reparations continues to be at the forefront of discussions as peace talks continue.
Building a Learning Community: Sharing Models and Lessons Learned
Reflecting the GIJTR’s emphasis on learning and evaluation, this publication – proposed as the first in a series – aims to highlight new and innovative approaches in the transitional justice field, as well as examine the impact of the GIJTR’s role in achieving goals of capacity-building, advocacy, and program development that are context-specific and relevant to the targeted participants.
Human Rights Documentation Toolkit
Developed in partnership with the Public International Law & Policy Group, the Human Rights Documentation Toolkit is a multidisciplinary, interactive online portal providing human rights documenters with resources and tools, broadly accepted practices and ongoing support from other documentation experts. To prepare the toolkit, Coalition members contributed their diverse experiences in collecting, storing, and creating public programming around documentation of human rights violations as part of community awareness-raising, truth-telling and victim recognition initiatives. The online toolkit features strategies and tools to address the challenges that documenters face. The Coalition was part of a group of ten organizations that collaborated to develop the Human Rights Documentation Toolkit.