Transitional justice

Transitional justice refers to measures used by a society in the immediate aftermath of a violent conflict to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale past human rights abuses in order to facilitate accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation. Transitional justice measures may include judicial and non-judicial responses such as prosecutions, truth commissions, reparations programs for victims, and tools for institutional reform such as vetting of persons to be integrated into the post-conflict era security sector institutions.  Whatever combination is chosen must conform with international legal standards and obligations.  

Normative framework

Various UN treaties enshrine rights and duties relative to the right to justice, the right to truth, the right to reparations, and the guarantees of non-recurrence of violations (duty of prevention). To comply with these international legal obligations, transitional justice processes should seek to ensure that States undertake investigations and prosecutions of serious violations under international law, ensure the right of victims to reparations and to know the truth, and provide guarantees of non-recurrence of violations. 


DDR and transitional justice are critical components for peacekeeping and peacebuilding strategies.  Efforts should be undertaken to constructively connect these two processes so they can contribute to both justice and sustainable peace.  This can be facilitated by, for instance, integrating information on transitional justice measures into DDR field assessments and design, incorporating a commitment to human rights and international humanitarian law in the design of DDR programmes, and identifying a focal point on transitional justice in the DDR programme. Additional efforts may include sharing DDR information with transitional justice processes, as appropriate, the screening of ex-combatants’ human rights records in case they are being integrated into the security sector, and collaborating on strategies to target spoilers.  DDR and transitional justice practitioners can also coordinate so as to support the reintegration of women and children associated with armed groups and forces.