UHHRU and transitional justice: setting trends in domestic policy

Back in 2015, when implementation of transitional justice had just begun, UHHRU experts had virtually no support from the government or human rights defenders. The very term “transitional justice” was only familiar to a small number of experts on international law and to representatives of international institutions.

Oleksandr Pavlichenko, Oleg Martynenko (UHHRU) and Valeriya Lutkovska present draft law On the Principles of State Policy on Human Rights Protection in the Context of Overcoming the Effects of the Armed Conflict. Kyiv, April 25, 2018.

Three years of hard work had not been for nothing. Last year, UHHRU implemented three strategic steps in this area:

International scientific conference “Post-Conflict Justice in Ukraine”. Kyiv, May 26, 2017.

Meanwhile, UHHRU has been actively advocating for this approach, which is a novelty for Ukraine:

  • holding the roundtable “Problems with Implementing Transitional Justice in Ukraine” (First Kharkiv International Legal Forum “Law and Issues of Sustainable Development in a Globalized World”);

– holding a thematic section “Can Instruments of International and Transitional Justice Help Ukraine Solve Existing Legal Problems?” (Human Rights Unconference, Kyiv);

– holding two TV marathons on transitional justice issues, with the support of TV people.

The need for transitional justice was brought up in UHHRU’s traditional analytical materials, as well as in the Alternative Report for the Universal Periodic Review of Ukraine.

UHHRU co-founded the CivilM+ international civic platform where it coordinates the work of a thematic transitional justice group. The platform brought together independent NGOs of Ukraine, Germany, Poland and Russia that work in the human rights, peacekeeping and humanitarian fields.

Presentation of the “Baseline Study on Implementation of Transitional Justice in Ukraine”. Kyiv, Institute of International Relations, May 23, 2017.

The academia was among the first to support UHHRU’s initiative. The Institute of International Relations of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv established the Post-Conflict Recovery Center, which sees transitional justice as a model for overcoming the armed conflict and prosecuting war criminals. Somewhat later, the Ukrainian Catholic University hosted the project Transitional Justice and Reconciliation in Ukraine. The project’s goal is to create a platform for experts to discuss the mechanisms of Ukraine’s transition from war to peace, as well as the instruments for social reconciliation. The Ukrainian Institute for the Future also joined the discussion of reconciliation, social dialogue and reintegration. Practical aspects of the administration of justice became the subject of study for the International Renaissance Foundation.

Finally, the year 2018 saw the subject of transitional justice attract the attention of Ukrainian politicians. Draft laws On Combating Collaborationism (People’s Front) and On Pardon (Fatherland) as well as the discussion of dialogue and amnesty by politicians indicate that they appreciate the complexity of the peacebuilding process.

Roundtable “Justice after De-Occupation: World Practice” at the Ukrainian Institute for the Future. Kyiv, June 1, 2017.

Worthy of praise is the initiative of MPs N. Veselova, I. Gerashchenko, A. Teteruk and O. Ryabchyn who visited Colombia this spring to study their experience of developing national mechanisms of transitional justice.

Considering this positive trend – the interest toward transitional justice mechanisms among politicians – it is appropriate to mention the complexity and the large number of problems with their implementation.

First and foremost, this is about the need for professional studying of foreign experience, in order to apply it correctly when developing the national model of transitional justice. Secondly, it is essential to coordinate the efforts of scholars, experts and the government. Thirdly, we must begin developing a state approach to the implementation of transitional justice in Ukraine – with an approved concept, a roadmap, and budget and time estimates. Naturally, we should also avoid political maneuvering by relying on the non-governmental sector and international organizations.

Prepared by Oleg Martynenko (UHHRU)

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