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HRC37 – MRG’s statement on the role of transitional justice in preventing atrocity crimes

2 March 2018

UN Human Rights Council

37th session

Clustered Interactive Dialogue on joint study transitional justice (item 3)

Thank you Mister President,

Minority Rights Group warmly welcomes this joint study, which brings a truly holistic approach to the role of transitional justice in preventing atrocity crimes. The study highlights among other things the importance of history education and religion as mobilising forces.

With regard to the role of religion, MRG has had the privilege of working with your office, Mr. Special Adviser, in developing and then rolling out the Fez ‘Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence’.

We have two points to make on the study, drawing in part on our experience so far with the Fez Plan of Action.

The first is that the joint study distinguishes between religious actors on the one hand and civil society on the other. They are largely dealt with separately in the study, with only a brief invitation to CSOs ‘to provide training to religious leaders and actors’. However, through MRG’s work with religious minority communities around the globe, we know that many faith communities organise themselves through a variety of mechanisms. For instance, Yezidis or Christians in Iraq will of course have their religious institutions, but members of the community will also be setting up CSOs for a wide variety of activities including emergency assistance, social services, advocacy and media.

Therefore, the separation between faith structures and civil society in the study does not necessarily reflect the realities on the ground. And this means that steps taken by governments, for instance in restricting the registration of civil society organisations and curbing access to funding, will have a direct and very negative impact on faith communities and their ability to act in the beneficial ways that the Fez Plan of Action envisions.

The second key point is to draw attention to the particular role of women’s groups in transitional justice processes and in preventing atrocity crimes. A very clear example is Guatemala where especially indigenous women played a crucial role in the peace accords of mid-90’s and subsequently in holding institutions to account.

I thank you.

Photo: Adama Dieng, the Special Advisor to the Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide, presenting the report