A Summary Report 2014–2024

About the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience

The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSC) is a global network of museums, historic sites and grassroots initiatives dedicated to building a more just and peaceful future through engaging communities in remembering struggles for human rights and addressing their modern repercussions. Founded in 1999, ICSC now includes more than 370 Sites of Conscience members in 80 countries. ICSC supports these members through seven regional networks that encourage collaboration and international exchange of knowledge and best practices. The Global Initiative for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation is a flagship program of ICSC.

Learn more at

Photo credits: Unless otherwise noted, photos are credited to the Global Initiative for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation.

Transforming Transitional Justice: A Decade of Change, Growth & Sustained Impact A Summary Report 2014-2024

Written by Simon Robins



The Global Initiative for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation On the eve of its tenth anniversary, the Global Initiative for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation (GIJTR, or the Consortium) worked with evaluation consultant Simon Robins to examine the depth and breadth of GIJTR’s impact in its first decade of programming. The following summary of findings, drawn from the full report, highlights many of the ways GIJTR revolutionizes traditional approaches to transitional justice through its flexible and context-specific lens. In particular, a lens that prioritizes the experiences and expertise of survivors and post-conflict communities by building their capacity to lead local and national initiatives that demand accountability, secure rights for all and foster more peaceful and just societies. The summary also focuses on the varied ways that GIJTR has impacted three primary groups: victims and affected communities, civil society and external spheres and actors (including the transitional justice field more generally). While GIJTR’s work is intentionally designed to meet the different needs of local settings, this report points to common impacts across GIJTR programs that have transformed the lives of tens of thousands affected by conflict worldwide, as well as the individuals and organizations seeking to support them. It is GIJTR’s hope that this summary will assist practitioners, civil-society organizations, policymakers, donors and others in the fields of transitional justice, peacebuilding and violence prevention in designing and supporting similar methodologies and mechanisms in the future. For the full report, please use the QR code in the back of this publication .


Transforming Transitional Justice: A Decade of Change, Growth & Sustained Impact—A Summary Report

About this Report

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Transforming Transitional Justice

How GIJTR Works

GIJTR’s Impact: Overview


GIJTR’s Impact in Depth: Victims and Conflict-Affected Communities

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GIJTR’s Impact in Depth: Civil Society

GIJTR’s Impact in Depth: External Spheres and Actors

Selected Publications and Resources

Participants at GIJTR’s international summit “Building Community Initiatives: Strengthening Sustaining Peace and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence in the Asia Pacific Region,” held in Bangkok in October 2023. The summit was attended by more than 150 representatives and served as a platform for theoretical discussion, experience-sharing and partnership- building related to human rights documentation, truth-telling, accountability and memorialization across the region.

About this Report About this Report


Participants in a GIJTR 2023 roundtable on global racism visit the Valongo Wharf Archeological Site in Rio de Janerio, where more than 900,000 enslaved Africans are estimated to have entered the Americas.


Transforming Transitional Justice: A Decade of Change, Growth & Sustained Impact—A Summary Report

ABOUT THE GLOBAL INITIATIVE FOR JUSTICE, TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION Equipping Communities to Drive Change The Global Initiative for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation was founded in 2014 by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSC), after ICSC members—which include over 370 historic sites, museums and memory initiatives in 80 countries— expressed the need for transformative and locally driven truth, justice and reconciliation efforts to support national transitional justice processes in post-conflict settings. As a Consortium composed of nine global organizations, including ICSC, GIJTR encompasses a range of expertise across multiple domains and disciplines, including truth-telling and memorialization, documentation of rights violations, rule of law and legal interventions, mental health and psychosocial support, forensic anthropology and community-led activism. These varied skills enable GIJTR to develop holistic, flexible interventions in response to local needs articulated in any context, even the most volatile, as post-conflict settings often are. GIJTR benefits from a multi-year funding structure as opposed to conventional time-limited program-based funding. This allows GIJTR to develop the long-term, multi-phase programs that best suits local capacity building and trust-building as well as sustainability. These malleable programmatic and funding approaches enable GIJTR to reimagine transitional justice through a locally driven framework rather than the conventional approach, which relied almost exclusively upon state-driven initiatives and international experts. This new approach allows a more holistic intervention that bolsters

International Coalition of Sites of Conscience Founded in 1999, ICSC is a global network of sites devoted to connecting past struggles to their contemporary legacies. Its membership encompasses well-known sites like Ellis Island in New York City to burgeoning memory initiatives in more volatile countries from Ukraine to Yemen. One of the key advantages of having ICSC as a founding partner is that it equips GIJTR with a cadre of trusted local partners around the world, with whom ICSC already has deep relations.

GIJTR Partners

From its onset GIJTR was designed to be geographically and programmatically diverse, encompassing the following organizations: • The American Bar Association Rule of Law, United States of America • Asia Justice and Rights, Indonesia • Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, South Africa • Documentation Center of Cambodia • Due Process of Law Foundation, United States of America • Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala • Humanitarian Law Center, Serbia • The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, United States of America • Public International Law and Policy Group, United States of America

the capacity of local civil society partners and survivors to work alongside state actors to build more equitable and peaceful futures.

A NOTE ON TERMS: In this Summary, GIJTR Consortium partners refer to the nine core organizations that help facilitate all GIJTR programs. Local civil society partners, or local partners, refer to community organizations that operate within a particular context and with whom GIJTR partners to facilitate individual projects.


About the Global Initiative for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation


In contrast, GIJTR is defined by a commitment to context-informed, locally driven, non-prescriptive and victim-centered approaches. GIJTR is uniquely equipped to build deep relationships with local parters due to its agile funding mechanism, its multidisciplinary skillset and ICSC’s global network of trusted members, who are embedded in their communities and often survivors themselves. prescriptive. It was defined by a precedent of perceived past successes and funded as time-limited, fixed-term projects. Further, those goals and methodologies were often determined by external actors rather than by affected communities and survivors. GIJTR launched at a time when transitional justice practice had become increasingly internationally led and

An image from a social media campaign to support GIJTR’s 2021 “Reintegration and Transitional Justice Project”, which focused on the experiences and biopsychosocial impacts of conflict and sexual violence on women, girls and children born of war. The social media campaign reached over 160,000 people.

GIJTR programs engage not only with the symptoms of violence and injustice, but also address their root causes. They do this by elevating the impact of both formal and informal processes through partnerships with communities, who understand these underlying causes best and are therefore crucial drivers of lasting social change and catalysts for justice.

Since its founding, GIJTR has:

Supported over 500 community driven projects

Produced over 50 publications and policy papers

Partnered with over 800 civil society organizations

Collected over 8000 narratives of human rights violation

Worked with people from 80 countries


Transforming Transitional Justice: A Decade of Change, Growth & Sustained Impact—A Summary Report

HOW GIJTR WORKS From the Ground Up: Primary Takeaways and Tools for Transformation

“I remember participating in a GIJTR workshop where, for the first time, you also heard victims’ voices. That’s unusual because you usually have organizations who either parade victims or speak themselves for victims, but here they were speaking for themselves... GIJTR has tried to be exactly that, a space where the voices of victims can be heard. I would say that that’s been quite revolutionary.” —Global scholar, 2023

Having worked in 80 countries worldwide, GIJTR utilizes six primary and interlinked programmatic approaches to support and sustain civil society actors who seek to promote positive change in conflict and post-conflict settings. At its core, all GIJTR work is:


Victim-Centered and Victim-Responsive GIJTR knows that lessening the long-term impact of human rights violations on survivors and affected communities only happens by centering those very groups as leaders in societies undergoing transition. Doing so promotes recovery, reduces the risk of further harm and reinforces survivors’ agency and self-determination. To this end, GIJTR works with victims and survivors at every stage of programming: from listening to their needs and co-designing the activities that will address those needs, to implementing and amplifying activity outputs. Further, its flexible methodology allows it to deploy a broad range of interventions in response to evolving opportunities and threats in real time, which are all too common in conflict and post-conflict settings and most affect civilians on the ground.


Context-Informed There is always a long history behind any conflict, authoritarian regime or systemic oppression. While a civil war or a dictatorship may have a start and an end date, the root causes that fueled them often existed for decades, if not centuries. Left unaddressed, those underlying factors—be they legacies of colonialism and slavery; patriarchal systems; or ethnic, racial and religious tensions—will perpetuate inequitable power structures and feed further violence and conflict. Sustainable peace always requires confronting and dismantling root causes. GIJTR understands that this process does not happen overnight, nor does it unfold in the same way in every context. For this reason, GIJTR’s approach is highly contextualized. GIJTR Consortium partners work alongside local partners—who know their own histories


How GIJTR Works

fertile functions in conflict and post-conflict societies. These include: igniting calls for more formal processes; providing more private spaces for victims to share their experiences, reintegrate and begin to heal; and developing low-profile but robust initiatives to document human rights violations (such as when political will for accountability is limited, former processes stall or security is a concern). “GIJTR starts at the bottom before getting to the top. It starts first with bringing together victims, bringing in people defending human rights, bringing together journalists, to discuss problems within communities. That’s its specialty. Addressing these problems only with politicians, and not those at the ‘lower’ end of the social ladder, can be a mistake. So, for me, GIJTR does special work because it attacks society’s problems at the base.” —GIJTR local partner, Guinea, 2019 GIJTR’s work shows the importance of having a versatile set of locally sustained tools on the ground to support truth and justice initiatives. This approach allows the greatest number of survivors and affected community members to take part in reconciliation and accountability processes that are integral to lasting peace. In contexts with state-led transitional justice processes (such as in Colombia, The Gambia and Guinea), local civil society organizations (CSOs) supported by GIJTR have had profound impacts on the direction and performance of these processes by making them more accessible to, and empathetic toward, victims. GIJTR enables this through workshops and trainings developed in partnership with communities. It builds the capacity and effectiveness of local civil society actors and

best—to develop a deep understanding of the unique historical, social, political and cultural context of each setting in which they work. This allows GIJTR to develop programs that address specific root causes and efficiently adapt to the fluid situations found in many post-conflict settings. For example, in such settings relative peace can abruptly deteriorate, perpetrators might resurface in positions of power or political transitions can ignite old wounds that lead to renewed violence.

3. Innovative and

Non-Prescriptive GIJTR’s local, context-specific approach demands that its activities from one setting to another are never predetermined. A central tenet that fuels GIJTR’s impact is that there is no one-size-fits-all model of transitional justice. In settings where there are significant numbers of missing and disappeared persons, a forensics focus may be prioritized in GIJTR programs. In ongoing conflicts, documentation of human rights abuses for use in future accountability efforts may be most in order. In contexts where there are opportunities for open dialogue and justice processes, advocacy and memorialization initiatives may be most needed. GIJTR Consortium partners hold expertise in a range of programmatic and geographic areas, including forensic anthropology, memorialization, documentation and psychosocial supports, so that no matter the local needs, a solution can be found. Locally Driven and Action-Based GIJTR’s success with locally driven programming is a clear counterpoint to the commonly held conception that transitional justice processes must be implemented solely in top-down style by formal institutions led by states or international fora. In contrast, GIJTR’s partnerships with local civil society organizations prove that informal or grassroots transitional justice mechanisms can serve many



Transforming Transitional Justice: A Decade of Change, Growth & Sustained Impact—A Summary Report

In 2020, GIJTR worked with ICSC member and local partner the Liberation War Museum in Bangladesh on a quilting exhibit that shared the experiences of Rohingya women survivors through panels embroidered by the women themselves.


How GIJTR Works

express themselves through art and other non-verbal mediums, alongside practitioners and other victims who are empathetic and understanding of their context. These informal transitional justice processes have been particularly beneficial to those who identify as female and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA+) community, who are a primary focus of GIJTR programming, which aims to meet specific needs of different victims while also tackling broader gender- based inequities. Influential and Non-Hegemonic Through publications, workshops and other platforms GIJTR prioritizes sharing its best practices and lessons learned with practitioners, policy makers and CSOs in order to advance a more collaborative, survivor- centered approach to transitional justice. GIJTR also challenges the field’s dependency on the Global North by amplifying the expertise and lived experiences of those in the Global South, where many GIJTR Consortium partners are based. GIJTR transcends traditional, top-down transitional justice programming by operating at multiple levels. While prioritizing community-driven approaches to truth, justice and reconciliation, GIJTR also engages states and international fora—when doing so advances local objectives. This integrative approach enables GIJTR to connect states, CSOs, survivors and victims, nationally, regionally and globally.

organizations to design and lead survivor- centered truth and justice initiatives, a key component of GIJTR’s lasting impact. GIJTR’s work with post-conflict communities goes beyond knowledge transfer. Through intentionally designed financial, technical and programmatic support, GIJTR also provides local civil society partners with opportunities to develop solution-based projects that are derived from and sustained by community members themselves. Holistic, Gender-Transformative and Trauma-Informed While psychosocial support has long been a feature of transitional justice processes, it has historically been incorporated in an ad- hoc or perfunctory manner, most often when consulting with victims giving testimony. GIJTR takes a far more integrative approach to trauma, ensuring that every stage of its programming is designed and implemented with consideration for the long-term and often intergenerational trauma that conflict inflicts on individuals, families and communities. GIJTR recognizes that those working through trauma, for instance, may not feel comfortable giving their testimony at a state-sponsored (and media-heavy) truth commission. For this reason, in multiple countries GIJTR works specifically with local partners to create more intimate and trauma-sensitive spaces where victims—many of whom have never been encouraged to share their experiences—can



In these ways, GIJTR champions collaborative, hands-on methodologies that encourage innovation and open up new spaces for effective action on issues facing post-conflict communities. Disciplines that had previously been siloed in transitional justice— including documentation, arts-based memorialization, forensics, criminal trials and psychological support—are positioned in GIJTR’s efforts as naturally complementary, all integral to achieving justice, healing and lasting peace.


Transforming Transitional Justice: A Decade of Change, Growth & Sustained Impact—A Summary Report

GIJTR favors “learning through doing,” and provides financial and programmatic support so local partners can gain practical experience through developing their own pilot projects. In the bottom image, GIJTR participants work on a community mural in a Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Often local partners then move on to mentor other local partners through South-South exchanges arranged by GIJTR. In the above photo, a Colombian organization trains Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh on visually collecting the stories of survivors as part of a GIJTR documentation project.


How GIJTR Works

In 2017, GIJTR facilitated seven truth-telling projects in rural communities throughout Colombia. One, from El Castillo, brought together a group of women who had lost loved ones in the conflict to craft dolls in their honor. Inside each doll was a recording of the woman’s memories of the victim. The dolls were then displayed on traveling exhibits throughout the country, helping to foster empathy and understanding through the arts.


Transforming Transitional Justice: A Decade of Change, Growth & Sustained Impact—A Summary Report

GIJTR’s IMPACT: OVERVIEW Local Communities Driving Global Change

Overview of Evaluation Methodologies Published in 2024, Transforming Transitional Justice: A Decade of Change, Growth & Sustained Impact, from which this Summary Report is drawn, used four primary evaluation methodologies to assess GIJTR’s impact

since its launch in 2014: • GIJTR’s Theory of Change model (see figure 1.1);


• Criteria from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECS-DAC), 1 which evaluates the relevance, coherence, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability of projects and is a standard evaluation approach in development interventions and beyond (OECS-DAC criteria has been used in all previous external evaluations of individual GIJTR projects); • A survey of 82 individuals affiliated with GIJTR’s nine Consortium partners and local partners worldwide; and • A qualitative evaluation of GIJTR archives, documents, previous external evaluations and interviews conducted with GIJTR Consortium partners, local partners and participants in GIJTR programming, including victims and affected community members. 2 1 Evaluation Criteria,” Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Develop- ment, Date Accessed February 17, 2024, daccriteriaforevaluatingdevelopmentassistance.htm 2 The full Impact Report details each of these evaluation methodologies in greater detail, and includes summaries of previous external evaluations of individual GIJTR projects. To access this longer report, please use the QR code here and at the back.

Survivors and Conflict-A ected Communities

Civil Society

External Spheres and Actors

GIJTR’s holistic, innovative methodology has a cascading and overlapping effect on impacts. For instance, it reimagines and actualizes new approaches in the field of transitional justice, while at the same time it forges meaningful engagements with a wide range of stakeholders. For clarity and accessibility, this Summary Report highlights impacts on the three primary recipients of GIJTR programming: survivors and conflict-affected communities; civil society; and external spheres and actors.

Short-term Results

Long-term Results



Skills Transfer


Strategy Development


Sustainable Peace

Strengthen local TJ process

Spaces for Dialogue

Locally Driven

Documenting Lessons Learned


 Figure 1.1. A visual representation of GIJTR’s Theory of Change, which shows schematically the causal pathways through which GIJTR’s projects create impact. This evaluation tool is most useful to assess the impact of GIJTR’s country-specific projects. These are typically multi-phase and multi-year engagements, which aim to strengthen transitional justice processes in a particular context over time. In addition to this general overview, every GIJTR project has its own specific Theory of Change, which is often evaluated externally.

Sharing Knowledge



Process Assessment

Outcome Measurement


GIJTR’s Impact: Overview



GIJTR-trained women collecting oral histories about people’s experiences of the Colombian conflict in marginalized communities.

GIJTR’s holistic and innovative approach to memorialization, as well as its mainstreaming of Mental Health and Psychosocial Services (MHPSS), complements formal transitional justice processes —which can only engage a limited number of survivors— by providing otherwise excluded survivors and affected communities with new and varied platforms to effectively advocate for new policies and practices that meet their post-conflict needs.

A tour guide at The Gambia’s Memory House in June 2022. The site is the first museum and memorial focused on the Jammeh dictatorship in the country. It began as a GIJTR-supported traveling exhibition.

GIJTR programming equips survivors and affected communities with new skills and connections to achieve acknowledgment, accountability and justice, including reparations and memory laws. In this way, it ensures that the voices of those who were often previously excluded from transitional justice processes are not only amplified but profoundly influential.


Transforming Transitional Justice: A Decade of Change, Growth & Sustained Impact—A Summary Report


GIJTR’s expertise in memorialization equips survivors and affected communities with new capacities to share their experiences of conflict through public exhibitions, podcasts, memorials and memory sites, among other programs, resulting in reduced stigma, increased empathy and deepened allyship. In this way, memorialization activities serve as a form of symbolic reparations, allowing victims to gain recognition and impact advocacy efforts on their own behalf.

A GIJTR-facilitated art exhibit in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh in March 2022. The artworks were created by refugees themselves based on their memories and their hopes for the future.

A Cambodian survivor shares his experience with a group of South Sudanese activists during a GIJTR-sponsored exchange trip for a documentation project in South Sudan.

An image from the Herstories Archive, an ICSC member and GIJTR local partner that collected the personal narratives of mothers from different regions in Sri Lanka after the civil war there (1983-2009). Photo credit: The Herstories Archive

Grounded in its strength as a global, trauma- informed Consortium, GIJTR transforms service provisions for victims through the establishment of referral networks that provide survivors and affected communities with a range of supports from physical and mental healthcare to microcredit financing.

By incorporating atrocity prevention and social cohesion into its programming, specifically by making visible root causes of past violence as the foundation for prevention of recurrence, GIJTR’s responsive, context-specific work reduces violence and promotes peacebuilding.


From the Ground Up GIJTR’s Impact: Victims and Conflict-Affected Communities



Members of the National Coalition to Support Reconciliation in Guinea (CONAREG) gather at a GIJTR workshop on gender justice and psychosocial support in May 2022. GIJTR supported the creation of CONAREG, which advocates for a holistic national reconciliation process in Guinea.

Through GIJTR’s long-term, multi-phased approach grounded in mutual trust and collaboration, 10 new networks have been formed comprising 145 civil society organizations in 23 countries. This has significantly expanded civil society capacity and space for peer-to-peer support and complementary programming. It also has produced a range of effective new initiatives advocating for transitional justice processes, new survivor-centered legislation, and public memorials to honor victims and survivors, among many other concrete impacts.

GIJTR builds the technical and administrative capacities of civil society organizations in 80 countries, equipping communities with new skills and strategies to shape and engage in both formal and informal transitional justice processes . Through new capacities developed in GIJTR programs, local civil society organizations can secure a range of new funding and other supports that lead to sustained impact over the long term. Since its founding, GIJTR has partnered with over 800 CSOs, conducting approximately 700 capacity-building workshops and 58 learning exchanges that reached over 42,000 participants. Participants in GIJTR’s African Youth Transitional Justice Academy engage in a dialogue facilitation exercise conducted during a capacity-building workshop in Rwanda in July 2019. The Academy brought together youth activists and civil society actors from seven countries in Africa to raise awareness of issues related to truth, justice and reconciliation.


Transforming Transitional Justice: A Decade of Change, Growth & Sustained Impact—A Summary Report


Local partners in Guinea during a GIJTR capacity- building workshop in Conakry.

Participants in a GIJTR training on digital archiving for civil society organizations.

Through direct financial and programmatic support to participants, GIJTR catalyzes grassroots projects that provide hands-on training for new cadres of civil society actors, resulting in dynamic new initiatives that directly serve the needs of previously marginalized communities affected by conflict. To date, GIJTR has supported over 500 such projects, including software to support the identification of victims, dialogues with refugees about justice and accountability and public performances aimed at preventing recurrences of violence. These projects initially serve as proof of concept for untested ideas that—once developed with robust support and seed funding from GIJTR—effectively attract new funding and are positioned for sustained impact in the long term.

Through its robust, gender-focused documentation efforts, which center on training local documenters, who are often survivors themselves, to collect other survivors’ testimonies, GIJTR ensures that the experiences of historically marginalized groups, including women and racial and ethnic minorities, are preserved in the public record and accessible for future accountability purposes even during times of active conflict. This use of local documenters, who are generally more trusted in their communities than international actors, results in more accurate and detailed testimonies that ensures often overlooked violations, including conflict-related sexual violence, are addressed and that victims receive mental health and psychosocial services so they can begin to heal.


From the Ground Up GIJTR’s Impact: Civil Society



By producing over 50 publications, including toolkits and policy briefs, in addition to social media campaigns, podcasts, newsletters and other knowledge-sharing activities, GIJTR has transformed the field of transitional justice through its groundbreaking practices, findings and recommendations—particularly in terms of the necessity of centering civil society in all interventions developed to meet post-conflict needs. Further, GIJTR has foregrounded the essential role of memory in effective truth and justice initiatives; communicated the importance of carrying out informal transitional justice processes alongside formal ones in order to effectively build trust among and engage as many members of civil society as possible in sustaining peace; and shown the necessity of mainstreaming MHPSS, which is now considered standard practice, with GIJTR’s work regularly cited by national and international entities including the African Union and the United Nations. Rita Izsák-Ndiaye, Senior Advisor on Anti-Racism at the United Nations Development Programme, speaking at GIJTR’s State of Truth in the World Report Launch at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in October 2023. The groundbreaking report, written largely by local civil society actors with a diversity of lived experience and expertise, offers holistic, survivor-centered analysis of the access to and protection of historical truths in 18 countries worldwide. It is, in Izsák-Ndiaye’s words, “a testimony to resilience and community struggles against all odds.”

Dario Colmenares Millán, a GIJTR Program Director, speaking at a meeting of Mexican CSOs in Mexico City in February 2023. GIJTR is building the capacities of Mexican CSOs to effectively participate in the activities of the country’s Truth Commission—including collecting documentation to inform the Commission’s findings— and ultimately implement its recommendations. By supporting the full engagement of a knowledgeable civil society rooted in local communities, GIJTR enhances the quality of formal transitional justice processes by both ensuring that state processes are informed by victims and their representatives, and that CSOs are themselves equipped with the skills to hold states accountable.


Transforming Transitional Justice: A Decade of Change, Growth & Sustained Impact—A Summary Report


A memorialization initiative developed by the National Association of Relatives of Kidnapped, Detained and Disappeared of Peru, a local partner in GIJTR’s “Indigenous Communities and Transitional Justice” project, which offers solutions for how formal transitional justice processes can better collaborate with Indigenous mechanisms that regularly incorporate restoration and retributive justice dimensions. With its unique attention to violence prevention and its embrace of informal truth and justice initiatives, GIJTR demonstrates that the tools of transitional justice can be used outside of formal settings and, often, before political transitions begin or conflicts end, providing practitioners new methods and guidelines for supporting affected communities to quell violence and advance peace.

Through its work with GIJTR, Consortium partner the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala has become a pioneer in transitional justice, ensuring the families of the missing and disappeared are centered in forensics investigations worldwide. Other GIJTR Consortium partners are also located in the Global South, including Indonesia and South Africa. By amplifying the experiences and expertise of communities in the Global South, GIJTR shifts the traditional power dynamics around who creates knowledge on behalf of whom, correcting a major weakness and significant historic oversight in the transitional justice field, which for decades has been criticized for promoting exclusively Western approaches to transitional justice processes in contexts around the world. By catalyzing and amplifying expertise in the Global South, GIJTR supports a robust new cohort of diverse practitioners and scholars who can inform the wider field based on their own learned and lived experiences.


From the Ground Up GIJTR’s Impact: External Spheres and Actors


Victims and Conflict-Affected Communities To emphasize GIJTR’s intersectional, multilayered approach, the following sections offer a closer look at exactly how GIJTR’s work impacts its three primary target groups, detailing methodologies, project activities, insights from local partners and common challenges found in conflict and post-conflict settings. GIJTR’s commitment to working “from the ground up” in conflict and post-conflict settings means that victims and affected communities are prioritized in all GIJTR programming. A principal element of every GIJTR project is an initial assessment of the needs of individuals in each context, and while those needs vary according to setting, clear and common indicators of impact exist across GIJTR’s many programs and initiatives.

Replacing Silence with Hope through Psychosocial Support

Conflict silences communities, and that silence often lasts decades after a conflict ends. In some settings, perpetrators are still in power, leaving victims unable to voice their experiences of trauma and move to a place of healing. In others, communities who have witnessed extended periods of authoritarianism or violence can become desensitized to it, eager to “move on and turn the page.” In still others, old tensions and biases continue to fester following conflict’s end, leaving certain marginalized groups, particularly women and LGBTQIA+ communities, feeling as stigmatized as ever, as well as hopeless that anything will change. GIJTR effectively tackles this silence by making MHPSS an essential part of all its actions. As a staff member at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), a GIJTR Consortium partner, explains MHPSS “is the lubricant to make everything else go well.” While in the past such support had been available to victims only during high- profile moments, such as when giving public testimony, GIJTR prioritizes from a project’s inception the creation of safe spaces for victims and survivors to share their experiences


Transforming Transitional Justice: A Decade of Change, Growth & Sustained Impact—A Summary Report

A participant in “Building Community Initiatives: Strengthening Sustaining Peace and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence in the Asia Pacific Region,” a GIJTR summit held in Bangkok in October 2023. The summit featured an exhibit of artworks made by survivors in GIJTR programs, including these two embroidered pieces made by Rohingya refugees.

“We do not come up with a clearly defined method of addressing trauma and traumatization for specific individuals, families, communities and societies. We don’t have a one-size-fits- all [approach] to addressing trauma and facilitating healing at multiple levels; we hit at individual, family, community and societal levels. But we build in the contextual realities, the contextual resources and networks of support that victims may have in their daily lives. Some victims, for instance, may believe in certain rituals that for them speak to or facilitate their healing, and that is okay. Some victims may use religious methodologies towards building their resilience and healing. And that is also okay. And some people will say, ‘Okay, I just want trauma counseling,’ and they go through that process, and it’s okay. But we really try as much as possible to look at different methods and methodologies of coping that are available for each individual, for communities, for families, and build upon those the different layers that are needed for sustainable healing and restoration of the normal functioning of those who have been traumatized. … So you may find that in country A, we are using different methodologies. In country B, we are using another methodology altogether because of the contextual realities and the need to build upon the resilience of that country and the resources available to specific victims.”

—Annah Moyo, Executive Director of GIJTR Consortium partner the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation


GIJTR’s Impact In Depth: Victims and Conflict-Affected Communities

and have a voice in rebuilding their country—both of which are crucial to helping society heal from trauma and believe that peace is possible. The impact of GIJTR demonstrates that putting the victim or survivor at the center of the process promotes their recovery, reinforces their agency and self-determination, and reduces the risk of further harm. Practicing a victim-centered approach means establishing a relationship with the victim that prioritizes their psychosocial and physical safety, builds trust and helps them to restore some control over their life. The impact of GIJTR’s commitment to MHPSS is evidenced in the following examples: In Guinea, GIJTR extended psychosocial interventions to support the creation of a victim support center where victims can go to see their stories reflected as well as access services. As one survivor and GIJTR workshop participant there put it, “One of the main achievements of the project was the liberation of speech and the disappearance of pessimism that had possessed the victims.” As a result of the center, victims have a dedicated and secure space to collaborate on peacebuilding initiatives, access mental health services and assist in supporting others in their community to do the same. In South Sudan, where the largely Western notion of individual MHPSS support is mostly unknown, GIJTR focuses on building the capacity of civil society actors to provide MHPSS support to groups of victims. As a result of GIJTR’s work there are now 48 well-trained individuals in South Sudan who can provide support to victims of violence. The sustainability of this program is enhanced through “training of trainer” programs that ensure this number will grow, as well as by GIJTR-supported referral networks that make victim support accessible from a cohort of organizations that attend to different types of needs. This approach has been replicated by GIJTR successfully in multiple contexts, including Sri Lanka, creating a cadre of MHPSS support persons in post-conflict settings who can mobilize local and contextualized understandings to provide the most effective support for victims’ mental health and psychosocial needs.

“The podcast project helped to share the voices of San Basilio de Palenque... people who did not dare to speak about the conflict. This project gave a voice to those who had no voice in the community, those who hadn’t had the opportunity to share the feelings that they had buried in silence deep inside their soul.” —Project participant, Colombia

A staff member of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, a GIJTR Consortium partner in South Africa, leads a GIJTR session on self-care and MHPSS for local partners in Guinea in 2018.


Transforming Transitional Justice: A Decade of Change, Growth & Sustained Impact—A Summary Report

Images from GIJTR’s 2017 bodymapping workshop and exhibition in Colombo, Sri Lanka. “If whole communities did this,” one participant said, “reconciliation would come.”

The 5th Pillar of Transitional Justice: GIJTR’s Impact Through Memorialization and Art-Based Programming

GIJTR’s trauma-informed approach lends itself particularly well to informal transitional justice mechanisms that serve the needs of survivors and transform the society at large by sharing the experiences of survivors with communities as a starting point for building a rights-based future. Buoyed by the 25 years of experience of its founding partner, the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, GIJTR is well-equipped to design and implement projects that use the power of memory to explore root causes of conflict and to foster positive change post-conflict. Many of these memory initiatives are art-based, which is known to help survivors shape perceptions of traumatic pasts and imagine a better future. In addition to therapeutic advantages, memorialization and art initiatives have practical advantages in post-conflict settings as they require minimal resources and can engage groups from diverse communities, perspectives and backgrounds. While memorialization is considered a “soft” tool when applied in transitional justice, it has the potential

to prompt deep questions around root causes of trauma as well as accountability and justice. As an accessible methodology, art-based memorialization can be useful in many post-conflict settings, including insecure environments where civil society actors are surveilled and harassed. Memorialization initiatives more broadly allow communities from both sides of a conflict, for example, to come together in a non- threatening space to engage in dialogue around issues related to truth, justice and reconciliation. In some settings, memorialization can be considered a form of symbolic reparation in its acknowledgement of the stories of victims. Using memorialization as a pillar of transitional justice typically begins by using art and culture to recall and confront the tragedy of past violence. In areas emerging from conflict and years of repression or authoritarianism, GIJTR’s art-based memorialization projects have proven incredibly effective at fostering empathy within divided communities and promoting justice, truth-telling and remembrance. This has resulted in a range of outputs and impacts across several contexts, including:


GIJTR’s Impact In Depth: Victims and Conflict-Affected Communities

Connecting Survivors with Formal Truth Processes In Colombia, where it has worked since 2017, GIJTR supports a range of truth-telling mechanisms, which offer survivors intimate opportunities to share their individual stories in ways that foster personal and communal healing. To cite one initiative, GIJTR supported 19 Colombian CSOs working with local Indigenous, rural and Afro-Colombian communities through trainings in truth-telling processes as well as provided financial and technical support to develop three-month awareness- raising projects. These projects, which were brought to communities across the country, helped to break taboos around speaking about the war—a significant problem in Colombia (as in many post- conflict settings) due to its potential to lead to a recurrence of violence. GIJTR published a toolkit detailing the methodologies behind these projects that was used by the country’s Truth Commission to promote community-based truth-telling. Finally, it worked to amplify the experiences of these communities and to connect them with the Colombian Truth Commission, which formally began on November 29, 2018, and closed in 2022, and continues to equip civil society organizations with the skills to implement the Truth Commission’s recommendations.

In addition to directly supporting communities, GIJTR advised the Truth Commission in Colombia on the best tools for collecting, documenting and sharing the stories of the conflict’s survivors—an integral step to ensuring lasting peace in the country.


Transforming Transitional Justice: A Decade of Change, Growth & Sustained Impact—A Summary Report

Transforming Trauma in Rohingya Communities

The diverse and evolving impacts of memorialization within the framework of transitional justice is evidenced in GIJTR’s work with Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh, where it is building the capacity of local documenters to record and share their experiences of human rights violations in their home country of Myanmar. Shortly after beginning this work in January 2019, GIJTR and local partners saw an immediate need to support women refugees in particular as not only are their perspectives often ignored in the camps, but they face deep-seated challenges including domestic violence and social isolation. To this end, GIJTR developed programming that combined traditional MHPSS with art-based memorialization initiatives, engaging over 600 Rohingya refugees in dialogue circles to share their life stories and produce memorialization projects for wide dissemination within 10 camps in local exhibitions and in related exhibitions in Dhaka, Chittagong and other major cities in Bangladesh, as well as in Bangkok and Jakarta. Through the art initiatives, which include paintings, community-produced videos, embroidery, patchwork and bodymaps, survivors—a large proportion of whom are women—share their experiences of the genocide they experienced in Myanmar, their longing for their homeland and their life in the refugee camps. Participants report that preserving their stories and having them heard within the community is very meaningful personally, but also an effective way of sharing their experiences with the host community and international actors to build connection, empathy and solidarity—all crucial elements of advocacy and developing closer engagements with accountability mechanisms. Through such memorialization initiatives, community participants also develop the trust and confidence needed to support more formal documentation processes. In this case, these memorialization efforts led to robust efforts to formally document experiences of refugees through a GIJTR-facilitated oral history archive, community-led documentary films and a continuous dialogue with accountability mechanisms based on information provided by memorialization initiatives. Alongside local partners, GIJTR supported women in leadership roles and in documenter recruitment. One documenter reported: “I work with

women especially. Women have so much to say and before never had a chance to express themselves to anyone.” Another refugee and participant explained: “Women should have the freedom to make decisions about their lives so that they may at least maintain their dignity, and we realized that we need to educate our community members about gender equality and gender-based violence.” GIJTR’s programming in Cox’s Bazar raises awareness of the forced displacement of nearly 1 million Rohingya from Myanmar, 85% of whom are women and children, and equips them to advocate as a community explicitly against the genocide and Myanmar’s attempts to destroy the Rohingya as a people. What began with the creation of safe spaces to share the stories of dozens of women in the refugee camps in Cox´s Bazar became a determined and strong campaign of over 300 women to strengthen a Rohingya-led movement for accountability and change.

GIJTR builds the capacity of Rohingya women to document, in both written and visual ways, the woefully underreported challenges faced by women in the camps, including economic disparities and sexual and gender- based violence, to ensure accountability in the future and challenge patriarchal norms more generally.


GIJTR’s Impact In Depth: Victims and Conflict-Affected Communities


Lifting Up Women’s Voices THE PROBLEM: Almost all Gambians are victims of Yahya Jammeh’s 1994-2016 dictatorship, which was characterized by gross human rights violations, including torture, enforced disappearances, detention without trial and extrajudicial killings. As The Gambia embarks on a process of dealing with the dictatorship’s legacy, GIJTR is working with victims’ organizations in the country to enhance survivors’ knowledge of transitional justice and provide them platforms to share their stories. Women were uniquely affected by the Jammeh regime’s widespread use of sexual violence. However, despite suffering substantial harm, accessing the country’s Truth, Reconciliation and

“WILL…provided a space where I can open up about the trauma I went through and [learn] how I can get back into … society [despite] all the discrimination and the stigmatization.” —Female victim from Sintet, The Gambia The listening circles were integral to ensuring that women’s voices were incorporated into the TRRC’s findings and recommendations—a crucial step to ensuring that such violence is not repeated in the future. As Baldeh explains: “Through the listening circles, we were able to incorporate psychosocial support, and some of the victims after a while felt confident enough to come out and share their experiences of violence including [sexual and gender-based violence]. So, through the listening circles, we were able to

support women to go formally to the TRRC and give statements, and some of these women actually testified. But also, for some women who felt that they were not comfortable enough to take that route, they were able to give us their statements which we documented and used to produce a shadow report that showed the collective experiences of Gambian women during Jammeh’s dictatorship, which we gave to the TRRC for use in their report.” CONCRETE RESULTS: With GIJTR’s financial and programmatic support, WILL is able to address the needs it sees in communities as articulated by victims and survivors. As a result, women who endured sexual and gender-based violence under Jammeh were able to access the TRRC and have their experiences recorded in the public record. Some 60-80% of all women who gave testimony to the TRRC came to that process through WILL. Further, the listening circles played a key role in changing the discourse around gender roles in The Gambia. To give one example, discussions with women about reparations led to demands for women to be permitted to own

“ As a victim, this is the first time that I am engaged on an important issue like this. I have never been involved in a discussions that gave me an opportunity to say how I feel. This is important to me and makes me feel like a part of the entire transitional justice process. —Participant in a community dialogue on reparations led by GIJTR local partner, Women in Liberation and Leadership. WILL, The Gambia ”

Reparations Commission (TRRC) (2017- 2021) was not always feasible for them. For one, most hearings were located in the country’s capital, which is inaccessible to many women in other regions, who are largely expected to attend to their domestic duties at home regardless of their trauma and desire to give testimony. Additionally, even if they could make the trip to a hearing, many women felt prohibited from speaking about their experiences because of stigmas around sexual violence. As Fatou Baldeh, the founder of Women in Liberation and Leadership (WILL), one of GIJTR’s local partners there explains, “Fear was going to prevent so many women from speaking.” THE SOLUTION: To correct this, GIJTR supported WILL to create “listening circles”—intimate gatherings where women could share their experiences with other women and trained support staff. The circles were conducted throughout the country, including in rural areas, where victims reported substantial impact on their well-being:

land, a transformative development. In this case, conversations about specific human rights violations developed in such a way as to address more systemic problems around justice and equality—and led to solutions. As one global scholar notes, GIJTR “is beginning to unpack what transformation approaches actually mean in the lexicon of transitional justice.”

“The safe spaces have helped me a lot; being among other women who have gone through the same experience as me and being able to share my story without being judged helps me free my mind and go on with my life easier.” —Female victim from Fatoto, The Gambia


Transforming Transitional Justice: A Decade of Change, Growth & Sustained Impact—A Summary Report

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