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Campbell-Nelson, K.

“Liberia is Not Just a Man Thing: Transitional justice Lessons for Women, Peace and Security” Initiative for Peace building, September 2008.

This report examines the role of women in the implementation of international peace and security instruments through a case study of transitional justice mechanisms in the Liberian context. The experiences of Liberian women have much to teach the world about women’s role in peace building—not only were women strategic in influencing Liberia’s 2003 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), but Liberia also boasts the first elected woman head of state on the African continent. The report makes a number of recommendations including support for personnel working for Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the development of an urgent reparation programme, support for the development of community-based schemes for women’s protection, and strengthening the criminal justice system to enable it to address past human rights abuses. It is further recommended that international organisations improve interorganisational coordination, help to make valuable information accessible to partners in the field, and conduct research more collaboratively with local women.

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Center for Democratic Development, CDD Ghana, and Coexistence International

“Reflections: What We Have Learned from Working Together at the Intersection of Transitional Justice and Coexistence”, Transitional Justice Monitor, Vol.1 (2), July 2008.

(CDD Ghana) and Coexistence International (CI) are almost 2 years into a joint project exploring the relationships and linkages between coexistence and transitional justice in the West Africa sub-region. The project, designed by CDD Ghana and supported by CI, seeks to (1) create opportunities for more coexistence-sensitive transitional justice processes and (2) further catalyze a transitional justice network of West African state and non-state actors by building capacity and sharing information and best practices about the nexus of justice and peacebuilding. Reflecting on the last 2 years while at the same time looking forward to next steps, the partners are positive about the activities and learnings to date, and also very much aware of the need for this pressing work to continue.This edition explores the broader, as well as nuanced, connections between transitional justice as a field of study and the practice of peaceful coexistence, and enumerates the activities of CDD Ghana and other groups in this regards.

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Yusuf, H. O.

“Calling the Judiciary to Account for the Past: Transitional Justice and Judicial Accountability in Nigeria.”Law & Policy, Vol. 30 (2), April 2008: pp. 194-226.

Institutional and individual accountability is an important feature of societies in transition from conflict or authoritarian rule. The imperative of accountability has both normative and transformational underpinnings in the context of restoration of the rule of law and democracy. This article makes a case for extending the purview of truth-telling processes to the judiciary in post-authoritarian contexts. The driving force behind the inquiry is the proposition that the judiciary as the third arm of government should, at all times, participate in governance. To contextualize the argument, the author focuses on judicial governance and accountability within the paradigms of Nigeria's transition to democracy after decades of authoritarian military rule.

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McCandless, E.

“Lessons from Liberia: Integrated Approaches to Peace Building in Transitional Settings”Occasional Paper 160, Institute for Security Studies, March 2008.

Through research on the ground in Liberia and engagement in peace building discussions within the UN at headquarter level, the paper begins with a review of key conceptual and historical issues and debates surrounding post conflict peace building, and particularly the UN’s role. It explains in detail the process undertaken in Liberia, describing the interlocking activity areas that have formed the building blocks of an overall strategic approach aimed at strengtheningpeace building. Subsequently, lessons emerging from the Liberia case are assessed and finally conclusions and recommendations are presented.

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Sleh, A., Toe, S., and Weah, A.

Impunity under Attack: The Evolution and Imperative of the Liberian Truth CommissionSilver Spring, Maryland: Image Group Press, 2008.

The authors recount the nature and causes of violence against civilians in Liberia’s recent conflicts, and trace efforts to seek accountability through a truth commission. The book posits three amnesty concepts -- explicit, implicit and consensual amnesties -- and contends that application of these amnesty practices throughout Liberian history is a prime causal factor of the pervasive impunity culture which emboldened various entrepreneurs of violence to inflict the various horrors that Liberia has suffered in more than one century, especially the last four decades. The book ends with a number of actionable proposals, or “imperatives”, for the fulfilment of the TRC’s mandate.

Gberie, L.

“Truth and Justice on Trial in Liberia,” African Affairs Vol. 107, (2008): pp. 455-465.

The TRC in Liberia was established by an act of the legislature in 2005, after having collected 16, 000 statements from victims as well as alleged perpetrators of the country’s nearly fifteen years of brutal civil war. The timing of the hearings appeared propitious, for they coincided with the opening of the trial of Liberia’s former president Charles Taylor in The Hague. The problem is that the trial of Taylor focused on crimes committed in Sierra Leone, not in Liberia. Meanwhile, in Liberia itself, the TRC process has been controversial. To many critics, it will neither create a “clear picture of the past”, nor “facilitate genuine reconciliation and healing”. This article analyzes those arguments and defends a better transition for Liberia.

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Hayner, P.

“Negotiating Peace in Sierra Leone: Confronting the Justice Challenge”, International Centre for Transitional Justice, December 2007.

The 1999 peace agreement between the armed opposition and the Government of Sierra Leone received considerable international attention. It ended a war renowned for its brutality, with a rebel force that seemed to lack any clear political ideology or aim. The peace accord is often remembered internationally for the blanket, unconditional amnesty granted to all warring parties, which met strong international condemnation. Despite the attention given to the accord, and the huge efforts of implementation by the United Nations and others, there has been no close study of the negotiating dynamics and influences over the three months of talks that led to the final accord. This article intends to fill this gap. Based on interviews with many of those directly involved in the talks, and focused especially on issues pertaining to justice and accountability, this account tracks the discussions and varying influences that finally resulted in the Lomé Accord of 1999. It also assesses the impact of this accord in the following years, from 1999 to mid-2007.

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Amnesty International

“Sierra Leone: Getting reparations right for survivors of sexual violence”. AI Index: AFR 51/005/2007, 1 November 2007

Six years after the end of the war in Sierra Leone, and three years after the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) called for a comprehensive reparations programme for survivors, the Sierra Leonean government has yet to institute these recommendations. In this report, Amnesty International (AI) examines the impact of this failure on the victims of sexual violence, a category of victims that includes an estimated 250 000 women and girls, or one third of the female population of Sierra Leone. The TRC recommendations stipulated that in addition to a general programme of reparations, victims of sexual violence should receive targeted reparations including free healthcare, trauma counseling and skills training. The report notes that the failure to take up these recommendations or to address broad issues of justice for sexual violence has encouraged impunity and furthered a general attitude of acceptance of violence against women. As such, Amnesty International calls for the immediate implementation of a comprehensive and transparent reparations programme which is adopted in consultation with victims and women’s organizations; an official apology; and a revoking of amnesty provisions of the Lomé Accord in order to pave the way for the prosecution of perpetrators.

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Sriram, C.L.

“Trials, Courts, and Post-Conflict Re-Building: The Special Case of Sierra Leone”Conference Papers -- International Studies Association, 2007 Annual Meeting, pp. 1-40.

Trials for mass atrocities after conflict may be said to serve many purposes, ranging from simple retribution to deterrence, to supporting post-conflict reconstruction and in particular the [re]institution of the rule of law. This paper focuses on the role of trials in supporting post-conflict re-construction and the rule of law, through the lens of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. It argues that not only does the functioning of the Court retain the potential to undermine broader peace building efforts, as evidenced by the proposal to move the trial of Charles Taylor to the Hague for security reasons, but that the hoped-for impact on rule of law may be illusory.

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Sawyer, E. and Kelsall, T.

“Truth vs. Justice? Popular opinions on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Special Court for Sierra Leone” Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution Vol.7 (1), 2007.

In Sierra Leone, international transitional justice has been pursued via a two-pronged approach. First, in a restorative philosophy, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission has attempted to provide an accurate historical record of the conflict, and to reconcile victims and perpetrators. Second, in a more retributive manner, an international tribunal is prosecuting individuals for war crimes and crimes against humanity. This strategy has been much debated, but largely at elite levels. Arguably, however, it is at the grassroots where the two institutions face their greatest challenge. To provide a bottom-up view, this article discusses the results of a popular opinion survey. The results show that the overall understanding of the Commission and Court is poor and that, partly as a result, the two organs are perceived to have had limited success. In spite of this, most respondents continue to think that they are important to peace in Sierra Leone. Statistical, cultural, methodological, and qualitative interpretations of these findings are discussed. The results provide pointers to the prospects for transitional justice models of this type.

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Grant, A.

“Fear and Loathing? Or Truth and Reconciliation in Liberia?”Conference Paper for the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, 2007

The provision of justice is an important component of rebuilding post-conflict communities. The need for transitional justice initiatives has gained much credence in recent years and has led to the establishment of an array of truth and reconciliation commissions, ad hoc tribunals, and the International Criminal Court. In comparative perspective with the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission (SATRC) and the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission (SLTRC), this paper addresses the following questions: given the scope and mandate of the LTRC, what degree of success might be expected in terms of bringing justice within formal institutions in order to avoid the outbreak of vigilante-style acts of retribution? To what extent will Liberia’s citizens play a role in the LTRC process? What are the long-term prospects for restorative justice, peace, and security in Liberia? In sum, this study of the LTRC seeks to contribute to the literature on peace-building and provide insights on the complex question of whether truth and reconciliation commissions are more effective than criminal prosecutions at providing justice and facilitating post-conflict order and security

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Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

“Child Soldiers and Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration in West Africa” November 2006

This report describes the use of child soldiers in various West African countries (Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Republic of Guinea) and how they are impacted by disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration processes. Poverty, illiteracy, lack of knowledge about children's rights and sometimes ignorance, are found to be the major obstacles for the successful implementation of DDR programs for child soldiers. To this end, the report recommends a child-friendly environment that gives preference to children's needs in order to effectively identify and register the DDR programs. Research needs suggested to be of high priority for such programs include informal demobilization of children prior to a peace process, links between the use of child soldiers and worst forms of child labor, border monitoring and cross-border recruitment of children and lack of child participation as a push-factor to recruitment. The research is based on approximately 290 interviews with local and international NGOs, government officials, members of (former) armed groups and former child soldiers and local media.

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Valji, N.

“Ghana's National Reconciliation Commission: A Comparative Assessment” Ghana's National Reconciliation Commission: A Comparative Assessment. New York: International Center for Transitional Justice, 2006.

This report assesses the impact of the Ghanaian National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) by comparatively evaluating the Commission's origins, the political context in which it operated the key elements of its mandate and its final report and recommendations. The research consists of primary interviews with representatives from civil society in Ghana and those involved in the NRC as well as a comparative assessment of truth commission processes elsewhere. Covered in the report are the contextual constraints of the commission, time frames, commissioner selection process, media coverage and public perceptions of the commission. The report concludes that elements of the process were laudable, including the mobilization of civil society and the comprehensive nature of the Final Report's recommendations. However, whilst the NRC is seen by some to have yielded the benefits of reconciliation through truth telling, it has also been criticized as a political tool, a second best option to national prosecutions and a process with limited impact on institutional transformation in Ghana.

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Lincoln, J.

“Painful Truth and Experimental Justice: The Special Court and Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Sierra Leone: A Model for Future Peace Building in West Africa?” Conference Papers -- International Studies Association, 2006 Annual Meeting

This paper assesses the impact of both the Special Court and Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Sierra Leone. It looks at the interplay between the two institutions and assesses their contribution to: 1. the ongoing peace process; 2. helping to strengthen rule of law and respect for human rights and 3. facilitating reconciliation within society. This transitional justice model is then assessed with respect to other conflicts within West Africa, mainly Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire, asking whether such a model would be both replicable and useful to help strengthen ongoing peace building efforts in the region.

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Shaw, R.

“Rethinking Truth and Reconciliation Commissions: Lessons from Sierra Leone” United States Institute of Peace, 2005.

As the international community reflects on the tragedy in Rwanda ten years ago, the question of how societies should attempt to heal the wounds from past virulent conflicts has recently received renewed interest by members of the press, policy, and NGO community around the globe. How effective are truth and reconciliation commissions? How can they build on grassroots practices of reconciliation, reintegration, and healing to develop a new generation of commissions that are more locally effective in dealing with the aftermath of conflicts? Building on findings from her extensive field research on local practices of reintegration in northern Sierra Leone, and on the district hearings of this country's TRC, Shaw analyzes the contentious relationship among memory, healing, and reconciliation in these contrasting arenas and critically examines the purported therapeutic and conciliatory effects of TRCs.

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Oduro, F.

“National Reconciliation Initiative in Ghana” The International Journal of Human Rights, Vol.9 (33), 2005: pp. 327 – 347.

This article examines the field of transitional justice, focusing on Ghana’s approach to dealing with past violations of human rights. The article traces the growing world focus on human rights following the trials and conviction of World War II war criminals. It highlights mechanisms available to address human rights violations during transitions. It further discusses the rationale behind Ghana’s choice of transitional justice model. The article argues and concludes that it was necessary for the newly democratic regime in Ghana to embark on such a process, and that Ghana’s attempt to wipe the slate clean by addressing such existing acrimony and mistrust is necessary for nation building and for progress towards democratic consolidation.

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Archibald, S., and Paul, R.

“Converts to Human Rights? Popular debate about war and justice in rural central Sierra Leone” African, Vol.72, 2002: pp. 339-367

Internationally, war in Sierra Leone (1991-2002) is regarded as an instance of violent conflict driven by economic factors (attempts to control the mining of alluvial diamonds). Fieldwork (2000-01) in rural areas recovering from war suggests a very different picture. War victims and combatants from different factions stress the importance of political decay, corruption, injustice and the social exclusion of young people. Other studies confirm the picture. There is broadly based discussion in rural communities about how to address the injustices held to have been responsible for the war. It seems in line with wider debate about human rights. Are people being converted to international ideals? Applying a neo-Durkheimian perspective, the article shows that this discourse about rights is a product of local social changes brought about by the war itself. The article concludes by asking how it might be consolidated by rights-oriented reconstruction activity. Human rights in Sierra Leone are as much a local development as an imposed change. In this respect the study confirms the importance of local agency already argued by anthropologists who have studied the process of conversion to world religions.

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English Resources by Region

Central Africa......................
East Africa..........................
Horn of Africa......................
North Africa........................
Southern Africa...................
West Africa.........................

English Resources by Theme

Civil Society.........................
Disarmament Demobilization Rehabilitation (DDR).............
Institutional & Security Sector Reform...............................
Judicial Accountability & Prosecutions........................
Marginalized Groups (Women- Youth- Children- Forcibly Displaced)...........................
Memory & Memorialization....
Reconciliation & Social Reconstruction.....................
Reparations.........................
Restorative Justice................
Traditional or Local Justice.....
Transitional Justice & Peace Processes...........................
Truth Seeking Mechanisms....
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