A history of unaddressed massive abuses is likely to be socially divisive, to generate mistrust between groups and in the institutions of the State, and to hamper or slow down the achievement of security and development goals. It raises questions about the commitment to the rule of law and, ultimately, can lead to cyclical recurrence of violence in various forms. The International Center for Transitional Justice works in over 30 countries to help connect local needs with global knowledge.
Transitional justice is not a ‘special’ kind of justice, but an approach to achieving justice in times of transition from conflict and/or state repression. By trying to achieve accountability and redressing victims, transitional justice provides recognition of the rights of victims, promotes civic trust and strengthens the democratic rule of law. In the aftermath of massive human rights abuses, victims have well established rights to see the perpetrators punished, to know the truth, and to receive reparations. Because systemic human rights violations affect not just the direct victims, but society as a whole, in addition to satisfying these obligations, states have duties to guarantee that the violations will not recur, and therefore, a special duty to reform institutions that were either involved in or incapable of preventing the abuses.