Shalom Educating for Peace

First African Commissioners Conference

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Remembering the Rwandan genocide of 1994 remains a critical incentive to work harder for peace.

Shalom Educating for Peace co-hosted the first conference for Commissioners of African truth, reconciliation and human rights commissions, together with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. From 28-31 August, commissioners from around Africa met in Kigali to assess the achievements and shortcomings of African TRCs.

In a time when extensive energy and resources of governments, the private sector and civil society is being directed towards the rebuilding of nations after violent conflict, the role of transitional justice (TJ) mechanisms, including truth and reconciliation commissions, is relevant more than ever. Particularly in Africa, post-conflict nation building has become a central concern in ensuring sustainable peace. In this context, reconciliation has become integral to the nation building project, with peace agreements, policies, laws and institutions being formed in order to facilitate national reconciliation.

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission is the continent’s most internationally known TRC, yet there have been various other TRCs and permanent bodies established across the continent: Sierra Leone, Liberia, DRC, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, Rwanda, Kenya, Mauritius, Algeria, CAR, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, Chad, Namibia, Zimbabwe and currently Tunisia and Burundi. Bringing these commissions and commissioners together at this time is critical, as the work they engage in plays an increasingly central role in sustaining peace in local communities and on a national level.

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L-R: Executive director, Stanley Henkeman, Patricia Nyaundi of the Kenyan Human Rights Commission, Director of SEP, Jean de Dieu Basabose and Ruben Richards of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The important role these commissions are playing has not been sufficiently explored, and existing structures have insufficient resources and scope to coordinate networks and partnerships between these commissions.

There is also a need for the development of regional regulations and frameworks to guide reconciliation processes. Recognizing this challenge, the African Union’s African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights passed a Resolution on Transitional Justice in Banjul in April 2013 (ACHPR/Res.235) to implement an AU Transitional Justice Policy Framework and to explore the possibility of establishing a special mechanism on transitional justice in Africa. Similarly, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation held a policy dialogue with SADC countries in 2014 to discuss the development of a regional policy framework for reconciliation.

The full report emerging from this important conference is available here.

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