Engaging Indigenous Communities in Transitional Justice Processes
Formal transitional justice processes often neglect nuanced traditional justice mechanisms which incorporate restoration and retributive justice dimensions, and in effect fail to benefit from the reconciliation goal embedded within these processes. In some instances, transitional justice processes often overlook indigenous communities, failing to provide adequate justice that is meaningful and culturally relevant to these communities. Indigenous communities understand these localized dimensions of resolving conflict and addressing issues amongst communities and groups who must live harmoniously alongside each other after resolving conflict.
Over the past three decades, the need to address the rights of indigenous communities in post-conflict contexts has become more apparent, and the potential for transitional justice processes to strengthen indigenous peoples’ rights has gained some recognition among indigenous rights advocates as well as transitional justice experts and practitioners. Indigenous people are often the most impacted by conflicts and periods of political repression, as they are often displaced by violence or fall victim to warring factions seeking to control their resource-rich territories; they face violence and discrimination because of their cultural identity or language; and they may be scapegoated or perceived as enemy-sympathizers by powerful groups, due to racism, mistrust and lack of understanding of indigenous cultures. To this day indigenous communities suffer continued social and economic marginalization and remain among the most vulnerable members of society. To address this, over the past two decades international human rights jurisprudence and discourse have developed significant standards outlining and interpreting the scope of indigenous peoples’ collective rights, including the right to self-determination and the right to land, territory, and natural resources.
To address this need, GIJTR launched this project which examines ways of engaging indigenous communities in transitional justice processes that are rooted in traditional cultures and practices, including community redress, indigenous restorative justice mechanisms, reparations to nature, culture-specific truth-telling procedures, reconstruction of the social fabric, restitution of balance between ethnic groups and other modes of reconciliation practiced by indigenous communities across the world. The project seeks to identify ways in which these indigenous communities could advocate for truth, justice, and reconciliation processes based on violations that they have suffered.
Through desk research and interviews with local partners, community leaders and grassroots communities in Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Colombia, Peru and Guatemala, Phase I examined the way in which transitional justice processes have engaged indigenous communities and addressed or failed to address their needs. A preliminary set of findings and recommendations was summarized in a final report on Africa and Latin America. For Phase II of the project, in order to further develop this research and include a wider overview of current challenges in addressing the needs of indigenous communities in transitional justice across the globe, Consortium partners propose to expand the reach to include at least three cases from the Asia-Pacific, two additional cases from Africa, and two additional cases from Latin America.
Objective 1: Produce a comparative study that examines the approaches and responses to transitional justice processes in Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific and the way they have incorporated or failed to include mechanisms to engage indigenous communities.
Conduct research and produce reports on engaging indigenous communities and identifying ways in which they can advocate for truth, justice and reconciliation processes based on violations that they have suffered in Africa, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific.
Objective 2: Generate interregional dialogue amongst transitional justice scholars, experts, practitioners, indigenous communities and civil society from Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific about the challenges and opportunities in engaging indigenous communities in transitional justice processes.
Plan and implement a virtual roundtable engaging stakeholders from Latin America, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific in interregional discussions on lessons learned and best practices in engaging indigenous communities and identifying ways in which they can advocate for truth, justice and reconciliation processes based on violations that they have suffered in Africa, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific.
Objective 3: Produce regional reports for Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific about engaging indigenous communities in transitional justice processes and develop guidelines for recommendations to address the needs of these communities in truth, justice and reconciliation processes.
Produce a summary report consolidating research that shares examples from Latin America, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific and identifies gaps in practice and policies, while offering conclusions and recommendations.