Atrocity crimes and transitional justice – Panel II

Building: E
Room: 02

Chair: Mandana Knust Rassekh Afshar

Gumusbas Ahmet
Title: "The Importance of Documenting Property Rights Amid Ongoing Conflict: Transitional Justice Lessons From Bosnia for Syria" Sponsored by the European Criminology Group on Atrocity Crimes and Transitional Justice (Ecactj)
In the transitional justice setting, there is a growing recognition of the significance of extending reparation to displaced persons as means of addressing housing, land and property (HLP) violations. In Syria, the future repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons, whose properties have been destroyed or illegally occupied, is likely to result in a high number of competing restitution and compensation claims owing to disputed ownership and lost or damaged property documents. This study intends to point out the importance of documentation initiatives designed to preserve justice elements while a conflict is still ongoing. It mainly discusses how protecting HLP documents and collecting evidence of occupancy during a conflict contribute to reparation processes. In order to provide a roadmap for the Syrian crisis, important lessons are drawn from the Bosnian case where the protracted armed conflict caused displacement and HLP rights violations subsequently addressed by transitional justice mechanisms. The paper identifies the documentation efforts between 1992 and 1995 that later supported verification and decision-making processes particularly at the Property Commission and the Human Rights Chamber. It also demonstrates the numerous evidentiary challenges stemming from inadequate documentation during the war. The study finally presents the current practices in Syria and suggests further measures relying on the body of knowledge obtained in Bosnia.
Keywords: Transitional Justice, Displacement, Property Rights, Documentation, ECACTJ
Knust Rassekh Afshar Mandana , Nandor Knust
Title: “In-Conflict-Justice”: The Conflict in Afghanistan, Transitional Justice and the Use of Traditional Law
Afghanistan is a country torn apart by over four decades of armed conflict and a legacy of mass atrocity crimes. Afghanistan’s approach to past atrocity crimes has not been led by a coherent transitional justice strategy. Not addressing transitional justice and accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the past was very much in the interest of the Afghan representatives who mostly were former Mujahedin commanders and responsible for those crimes. The fact that many former leaders and well known war criminals continue to be in power, diminishes the trust both in the government and the international community who have failed to come up with a clear policy to address injustice. In 2009, the Afghan Parliament adopted the Law on National Reconciliation, General Amnesty and National Stability and granted itself a blanket amnesty for past and future atrocity crimes. The President office added a paragraph to the bill upholding the rights of individuals to claim against individuals based up on Haqullabd (rights of people) and criminal offences in respect of individual crimes according to Sharia law. The paper will discuss the ideas of “in-conflict”-justice for Afghanistan by using theories of Transitional Justice. Furthermore, it will discuss the (general) amnesties from a public international law, international criminal law and Islamic law perspective and will integrate those findings into the above-mentioned ideas of “in-conflict”-justice.
Keywords: Afghanistan, Atrocity Crimes, Transitional Justice, ECACTJ, Islamic Law
Odak Stipe
Title: Divided Bridges: Peacebuilding Potentials and Limits of Religious Leaders, the Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Religious leaders are often seen as individuals who, thanks to their moral authority and continuous engagement in their communities, can positively influence peacebuilding processes after violent conflicts. The primary focus of their activities are often areas closely related to the concept of Transitional Justice: truth, commemoration, and reconciliation. Referring to pro-social elements in their traditions, they can promote rapprochement between former adversaries, act as advocates, brokers, and mediators, and work on inclusive views on human tragedies. In that sense, they are often seen as “bridges” between communities. Aside from these positive potentials, religious leaders can equally deepen existing divisions, make negotiations and settlements more difficult, and catalyze violence. Starting with the metaphor of divided bridges, this presentation inquiries not only about positive potentials of religious leaders but also about the inner inhibitions and limits that they face in post-conflict settings. The paper introduces the concept of “theological dissonance” to explain the mismatch between ‘universal’ religious principles and practical limitations related to religiously-inspired peacebuilding. The presentation is based on empirical data collected in 2015 and 2016, during two waves of interviews with Christian and Muslim religious leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Keywords: religion, transitional justice, peacebuilding, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Weerdesteijn Maartje
Title: The ICC and R2P From a Global Governance Perspective
In 2005 the international community accepted the responsibility to protect (R2P) populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is often referred to as a “tool in the toolbox” of the responsibility to protect. It is not clear, however, how the ICC functions as a tool for the implementation of R2P. While some scholars argue that the relationship between the two is strained, others note that they complement each other and each fills a gap that is necessary for the international community to safeguard populations from atrocity crimes. It will be argued here that the relationship between the two mechanisms can be usefully analysed from a global governance perspective in order to set out how formal and informal norms and institutions interact when mass atrocities are addressed. The aim is to assess the extent to which each can be considered part of a global governance regime that facilitates the protection of populations from atrocity crimes.
Keywords: Responsibility to protect, international criminal court, global governance
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