Regional Consultation on Transtional Justice Development in the MENA Region

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Sexual Assault Referral Centres in Hargeisa and Burao, Somaliland, combining the provision of medical and legal services for sexual and gender-based violence survivors, have been established with UNDP’s support. (Photo: UNDP Somalia)

Date: 7 - 9 November 2012

Location: Cairo, Egypt

A Regional Consultation on Transitional Justice Developments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will be jointly organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence (the Special Rapporteur), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Regional Centre in Cairo.

The Regional Consultation will bring together some 80 participants, including government officials, and representatives from national human rights institutions and civil society.

Overall Objectives

The Regional Consultation will take stock of the steps taken by the participating countries of the region in the area of transitional justice. It will create an open forum for the different actors across the MENA region to share experiences and practices on transitional justice initiatives, and identify challenges and needs. It will also look at the way forward, and discuss possible cooperation with national, regional and international stakeholders.

Specific Objectives

The Regional Consultation will aim at:

  • Providing an overview of international norms and standards as relevant for transitional justice processes;
  • Introducing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence to transitional justice actors in the MENA region, and his vision on the implementation of the mandate;
  • Examining and discuss pressing transitional justice issues and current challenges arising from developments in the MENA region and reflect on recommendations to address them;
  • Sharing experiences and let others in the region benefit from lessons learned  from on-going transnational justice developments as well as past experiences;
  • Facilitating coordination and collaboration between various national and international actors working on transitional justice in the MENA region;
  • A report reflecting transitional justice developments and experiences in the region, and
  • Allowing the Special Rapporteur to gather information on transitional justice developments, trends, practices and needs in the MENA region, which will assist the mandate-holder in providing technical assistance and advisory services to Members States in a targeted and efficient manner. The information gathered may also inform future reports and areas of research on issues relevant to the mandate. 

Content   

The Regional Consultation will take place around five plenary sessions:

  • Transitional Justice: National Consultation and Public Participation: This session will highlight the crucial role of consultation and participation, including relevant mechanisms, of all actors in the process of transitional justice throughout the transitional justice process and beyond the initial consultation phase. This includes civil society actors and victims’ groups, affected communities including minorities, internally displaced people and refugees.
  • Transitional Justice and Gender: this session will focus on the need for special measures that would allow a real and meaningful participation of women in transitional justice processes. It will look at measures that have already been adopted and discuss next steps to ensure that women’s needs are adequately taken into account and the harm they suffered is properly addressed.
  • Transitional Justice, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and Development: the session will stress the need for transitional justice processes and mechanisms to take account of the root causes of conflict and repressive rule, and address violations of all rights, explore how transitional justice processes could be articulated with other policies and measures aimed for example at promoting economic growth and development, access to basic services and goods, fighting corruption and recovering stolen assets.
  • Transitional Justice and Security Sector Reform: the session will expose lessons learned in the MENA region and beyond to help illustrating practical examples of institutional reform initiatives, including vetting, that aim at preventing the recurrence of violations.
  • National Justice Systems and Transitional Justice Processes: the session will explore the role of national justice systems in the MENA region addressing crimes under international law, as well as any relevant lessons learned and challenges in this regard. Additionally, it will discuss the role that amnesties can play in transitional justice processes, while taking into account limits on their permissible scope, and providing an overview of applicable international norms and standards.

Participants

The Regional Consultation will bring together some 80 participants from seven countries of the MENA region (Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen), including three government officials, one representative from national human rights institutions, and two representatives from the civil society per country. UN Residents Coordinators and representatives of regional and international NGOs, as well as the League of Arab States will also attend the Regional Consultation. National and international experts, including from OHCHR and UNDP, will facilitate the discussions.

Methodology

The consultation will take place over three days. Each of the five topics identified above will be discussed through a plenary session during which a panel of experts and practitioners will expose their views and analyses.

The panellists’ presentations will include national as well as international and comparative perspectives. They will be followed by an open discussion. A closing session will be held to discuss next steps.  The languages of the Regional Consultation will be Arabic, English and French.