New UN expert on transitional justice presents first report to General Assembly
Thursday, 22 November 2012 03:58


On 2 November 2012, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Mr Pablo de Greiff, presented his first report to the General Assembly’s Third Committee.[1]


In his statement, the Special Rapporteur laid out the foundations of his mandate and called on States to translate into practice their commitments to the idea that redressing past violations is vital for the rule of law.


The Special Rapporteur commended the creation of his mandate by the Human Rights Council. He also praised Member States for having recently adopted a Declaration which expresses the international community’s strong commitment to the rule of law that goes beyond a purely beyond legal formalism - which has proven greatly ineffective - and includes protection of human rights. He referred to apartheid South Africa and Pinochet's Chile to highlight that a formal understanding of the rule of law does not offer guarantees against gross human rights violations, and in some cases can be used to strengthen abusive power.


The Special Rapporteur also elaborated on how the promotion of transitional justice measures can contribute to the rule of law through the implementation of the four pillars of the mandate: truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence.  He underscored how certain measures, such as truth commissions, criminal prosecutions, reparations for victims and institutional reform can enhance the rule of law at the domestic level. However he also regretted that some governments remain reluctant to adopt these measures, or try to  trade off one measure against another.


Five countries participated in the dialogue. All the participants expressed appreciation for the victim-centred approach endorsed by the Special Rapporteur. Several States, including Switzerland, were interested in the next steps of the Special Rapporteur, and how he intended to reinforce links among the four pillars.  Chile, Morocco, and Switzerland asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on the gender-dimension of his work, and Norway inquired about marginalized minorities.


In his responses, the Special Rapporteur expressed concern about how few transitional measures had served women and marginalized communities, In regards to moving forward, he planned to hold a  series of consultations at the regional level to explore how countries had redressed massive violations.  He would also carry out country visits, and in due course, provide advisory and technical services.


Lastly, he reiterated the importance of appropriate redress. The fundamental challenge for the effective strengthening of the rule of law, he stated, is that transitional justice must integrate the four pillars, and that it must be designed and operated with acknowledgement of the past.

[1] The report (A/67/368) is available at


Last Updated on Thursday, 22 November 2012 03:59
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