Legacies of serious past crimes can be extremely difficult to address during peace processes. The Mediation Support Unit supports UN mediators and their teams, parties to conflict, and partner organizations who are confronting questions of justice and reconciliation in such contexts.
Working closely with OHCHR and other UN entities, MSU offers practical support and options based on technical advice and comparative experience to promote accountability and the realization of victims’ rights, with a focus on the strategy and design of peace talks in relation to these issues. It also suggests approaches for a society to move towards reconciliation, rooted in the realities of each context. To this end, MSU has Standby Team standing capacities that can be quickly deployed in support to peace negotiation contexts, field missions, and non-mission settings.
For example, in Bolivia, following a contested electoral process and the resulting political instability, a Standby Team process design expert deployed to La Paz on a semi-recurring basis to assist the Resident Coordinator in developing the contours of UN support to a programme of national reconciliation efforts and to hold consultations with various stakeholders. This involved supporting analysis and programme design efforts, facilitating relationship-building with high-ranking government officials, and preparing a number of initial activities, such as a virtual experience-sharing forum to distil lessons from regional reconciliation processes, as well as a digital dialogue initiative to consult Bolivians on issues of identity, citizenship and national unity.
Over the past twenty years the UN has issued numerous guidance documents and briefing notes that should help those addressing these challenging issues; publicly-available UN documents are provided below, in chronological order.
Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the interconnections between transitional justice, sustaining peace, and sustainable development.
Practical Guidance for Mediators to Protect Children in Situations of Armed Conflict, Office of the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict, Feb 2020.
Best Practices Manual for United Nations–International Criminal Court Cooperation.
Human Rights and Traditional Justice Systems in Africa. OHCHR. July 2016.
Transitional Justice and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. OHCHR. January 2014.
Guidance on contacts with persons who are the subject of arrest warrants or summonses issued by the International Criminal Court, Annex to UN Doc A/67/828–S/2013/210
UN Guidance for Effective Mediation, chapter on “International law and normative frameworks,” June 2012.
Integrated Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Standards, Module 6.20 on DDR and Transitional Justice. 14 December 2009
UPDATED SET OF PRINCIPLES FOR THE PROTECTION AND PROMOTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS THROUGH ACTION TO COMBAT IMPUNITY, E/CN.4/2005/102/ADD.1, BY UN INDEPENDENT EXPERT DIANE ORENTLICHER, 2004.
Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law, also known as the Van Boven/Bassiouni Principles.
The Rule of Law and Transitional Justice in Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies: Report of the Secretary-General, S/2004/616*, 23 Aug 2004.
Reports of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and the guarantee of non-repetition
Guidance Note of the Secretary-General: UN Approach to Transitional Justice, March 2010.
Astrid Jamar and Christine Bell, TJ and Peace Negotiations with a Gender Lens, UN Women and the University of
Edinburgh, Oct 2018.