New Working Paper Details the Concept and Need for a Global Transitional Justice Process

25 January 2022

Our new Working Paper by Professor Olivier de Frouville Towards Global Transitional Justice? discusses the need for – and existing premises – a Global Transitional Justice Process.

Based on his keynote speech at the Geneva Academy 2021 Graduation Ceremony, it introduces this novel concept, its existence in international law albeit in a fragmented landscape, its scope and its means of implementation via legal tools and political processes.

‘We generally think of transitional justice at the national level. However, if humanity can prosecute crimes against humanity through international tribunals, there must also be a concept of global transitional justice, so as to establish the foundations for a better and fairer global society’ explains Professor de Frouville.

A Broad Scope

The paper highlights the emergence of this concept in relation to past genocides, slavery and slave trade, colonialism, gender inequality and violence against women, issues that are high on the international agenda.

‘It is clear though that there is still much selectivity in the way the UN is looking at the past, and this creates some tensions. A more balanced and exhaustive look is therefore needed. To that end, a global transitional justice process would not only mean an ‘international’ or ‘world’ transitional justice process but also a process that would look at all the wrongs, in all regions of the world, rather than being selective in its approach’ says Professor de Frouville.

In his paper, Professor de Frouville also argues that a global transitional justice process should equally aim at bringing accountability and reparation for the crimes humanity perpetrated against the biosphere and the other living, reconciling Humanity with so-called ‘Nature’ so that humans can think of themselves as part of ‘nature’.

Professor Olivier de Frouville at the 2021 Graduation Ceremony

The Need for a Science-Political Platform for Global Transitional Justice

Frouville highlights in his paper the need for scientific knowledge to establish the truth about what happened, how it happened, and what the responsibilities are.

As in truth processes at the domestic level, he also stresses the need for simple people – especially victims or their families – and civil society to participate actively in the process of truth-seeking. The interests of the biosphere and of the non-human living on earth should also be represented in the discussion and have their say

‘The difference here is that we would need a more global effort. This would include, on the one hand, scientists coming from all parts of the world to interact with the aim of establishing accepted historical facts. On the other hand, members from civil society, victims' associations and organizations advocating in favour of the biosphere and the other living on earth would participate in a global debate about past injustices, based on historical facts’ explains De Frouville.

‘Based on this, states would elaborate programmes of action at the global level in order to implement guarantees of non-repetition that would include for instance mutually agreed acknowledgement of historical facts and, why not, a global history textbook, including the history of human groups and their interactions as well as a history of humanity in its relation to ‘Nature’’ he adds.

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