2017 has been a difficult year for those of us working in the human rights field. We have seen the resurgence of illiberal powers and populism coupled with a growing disdain for human rights across a wide swath of capitals, including some which have abruptly switched sides. At the same time, some traditional supporters of human rights organizations have pulled back their support.
Against this challenging background, I am proud to report that ICTJ continues to push forward for justice, for victims, and for accountability. We have adopted a new strategic plan that is built around the proposition that in these difficult times ICTJ can make a difference in contexts around the world by working more creatively and more efficiently with a wider variety of partners.
Thus, despite the current morass in Syria, instead of waiting for a far-off transition, we have engaged deeply with victim groups. These efforts have resulted in a new approach to documentation of the many shocking violations in the country. Focusing on the destruction of schools, this documentation will be presented in Geneva to a Panel of Conscience, composed of high level international officials, in March 2018. It will allow the world to hear the voices of victims and their quest for justice in a much more direct way. This approach will bring the plight of victims to a wider audience in Europe and beyond.
ICTJ continues to play a unique role in the peace process in Colombia, ensuring that justice remains at the heart of the process. We provide support in a myriad of ways through constant engagement with civil society and the parties to the peace agreement. Juan Mendez, former ICTJ President, has continued to serve as ICTJ’s representative on the Selection Panel for the judges who will serve on the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. ICTJ serves as a key and trusted interlocutor for all.
In Tunisia, the landscape remains difficult, but our team, composed largely of women, has worked tirelessly and earned trust from all sectors of society. I had the honor of attending the public hearings of the Truth and Dignity Commission, which electrified the nation and the region. ICTJ’s support helped the hearings capture the imagination of not just the Tunisian public, but the world.
There is much else that ICTJ has done over the last year that are highlighted in our Year in Review gallery. We have addressed the consequences of impunity in a range of countries, from the Philippines to Myanmar as well as the struggle for justice in Nepal, Kenya, and Cote d’Ivoire. ICTJ has worked extensively on the critical questions of peace and justice in a variety of ways, and conducted groundbreaking research on reparations, on truth-telling and on broader transitional justice themes as well. We continue the struggle to ensure that women are included in transitional justice processes.
Finally, we have raised our voice on the question of racial justice in the United States. We seek to help activists, policy makers, and the general public in the United States understand the relevancy of transitional justice experiences around the globe, closing the year with our Annual Lecture on Transitional Justice (co-sponsored with NYU’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice), with a conversation between Darren Walker, Sherrilyn Ifill, and myself. This discussion, along with our other work in this regard, has opened new pathways for ICTJ to contribute to this important discussion in its own backyard.
In a difficult context, ICTJ is grateful for the generous support of our allies in the donor and international communities. Due to their support, and the tireless efforts of our staff, ICTJ has adapted to new realities and made contributions to justice efforts across a range of countries with innovation, determination, and continued refection on how we can do our work more effectively.
As we continue to adapt, ICTJ is expanding its network of supporters by asking likeminded individuals who share our commitment to justice and human rights to consider making an annual gift to ICTJ. Please click here to make your gift and help us continue our work across society and borders.
Best wishes for the holidays and the New Year,
David Tolbert, President
International Center for Transitional Justice