Forced Migration and Transitional Justice: Research Challenges

Second ATJRN Workshop

Hosted by the Refugee Law Project, Uganda

Venue - Ridar Hotel – Kampala, Uganda
3 – 5 December 2006


The African Transitional Justice Research Network, through its regional partner the Refugee Law Project, hosted a workshop for researchers based in the Great Lakes/ Horn of Africa from the 3rd to 5th December 2006, in Kampala, Uganda.

Given the history of mass displacement and cyclical population flows in the region, it was decided that the workshop would focus on research and practical issues related to displacement and transitional justice.  Topics included in the agenda included:

  • The context of conflict, peace agreements and transitions in Sudan, DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, and beyond;
  • The future of transitional justice in the region with a view to strategically re-aligning transitional justice initiatives with developments in the region;
  • Reintegration of ex-combatants and internally displaced persons;
  • Ethical and methodological issues in conducting research with displaced populations;
  • The role of civil society in moving beyond reconciliation initiatives bounded by the nation-state to instead conceptualise mechanisms which address the regional nature of the conflict

The workshop aimed to build the capacity of local researchers to design and conduct research, and to inform and monitor the transitional justice policies utilised in this region.

Participants were selected either through direct identification by ATJRN Steering Committee members or by application through the Network’s listserv and website.

The facilitators for the workshop were Sandro Jimenez (Colombia), Ana Rodicio (Spain), Jana Asher (USA), Sarah Crawford-Brown (South Africa), Nahla Valji (South Africa) and Moses Okello (Uganda).


Day 1: First Session


The first session began with a brief background on the ATJRN, its objectives, Steering Committee members and past activities.  Pariticipants were then asked to introduce themselves, their institutions, background and expectations for the workshop.


Day 1: Second session

Regional and national dimensions of conflict

Open discussion

Ugandan case – drawing on experiences of those participants working in the camps, an open discussion addressed the realities on the ground as well as the perceived needs of survivors and some of the complexities which emerge around questions of justice


Day 1: Fourth session

Research and Transitional Justice

The importance of research

  • reference was made to the Ugandan case e.g. misinformation on what the traditional system entails
  • documenting atrocities
  • debate on the ethicalities of research e.g. objectivity, confidentiality, control for exaggeration, clarity of objectives and outcomes, sensitivity of information and methodology, acceptance or rejection of sampled information or data – this is questioned on the basis of credibility.

Day 1: Fifth session

Case study of research conducted on traditional Acholi justice practices and methodologies used in conducting the research.

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