AU Transitional Justice Policy

The African Union Transitional Justice Policy (AUTJP) is conceived as a continental guideline for its Member States to develop their own context-specific comprehensive policies, strategies, and programs toward democratic and socioeconomic transformation, and achieving sustainable peace, justice, reconciliation, social cohesion, and healing.

The AUTJP is an African model and mechanism for dealing with not only the legacies of conflicts and violations but also governance deficits and developmental challenges with a view to advancing the noble goals of the AU’s Agenda 2063.

Articles 40, 41, and 42 of the AU Policy on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD), under its chapter on Human Rights, Justice, and Reconciliation, recognize the need for Transitional Justice Policy to protect human and people’s rights. It allows the AU to develop mechanisms to deal with past and ongoing grievances; provide opportunities for a context-based approach to the PCRD; offer principled guidance on balancing the demands of justice and reconciliation; encourage and facilitate peacebuilding and reconciliation activities from national to grassroots levels; allow for opportunities to invoke traditional mechanisms of reconciliation and/or justice, to the extent that they are consistent with the ACHPR; establish efficient and independent justice sectors; and provide for the use of AU structures and other relevant AU shared-values instruments to reinforce human rights, justice, and reconciliation.

The AU’s Agenda 2063 made a declaration to end all wars in Africa by 2020; and the AUPD report, which outlines key TJ principles relevant to Africa, foretold the importance of an African TJ policy. The AU Panel of the Wise report, “Non-Impunity, Truth, Peace, Justice, and Reconciliation in Africa: Opportunities and Constraints”, recommends the development and adoption of an African policy framework on TJ. The AU Assembly decision on the theme of the January 2011 Summit: Towards Greater Unity and Integration through Shared Values (Assembly/AU/Decl.1 (XVI)) called on the AU Commission (AUC) to ensure greater synergy between the shared values on human rights, governance, democracy, development, and peace and security.

Finally, the AU Assembly decision that declared “2014–2024 as the Madiba Nelson Mandela Decade of Reconciliation in Africa” (Assembly/AU/Dec.501 (XXII)) calls on the AUC, in collaboration with Member States, to take appropriate measures to promote reconciliation as a means of securing peace, stability, and development in Africa, as well as to promote lessons learned from Nelson Mandela’s indelible legacy in the areas of truth, reconciliation, and peacebuilding.

The overall objective of the AUTJP is to provide the policy parameters on holistic and transformational TJ in Africa, drawn from – amongst others – the AU Constitutive Act, Agenda 2063, the ACHPR, and the AU shared-values instruments. The policy offers guidelines, possible benchmarks, and practical strategic proposals for the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of African TJ processes. The policy establishes the principles and approaches that should guide such holistic and transformational TJ. In this regard, the specific objectives of the AUTJP include the following:-
i. Improving timeliness, effectiveness, and coordination of TJ activities in post-conflict and non-conflict countries, laying the foundation for social justice and sustainable peace, and preventing the recurrence of violence;
ii. Enhancing social cohesion, nation-building, and where necessary, comprehensive State reforms as means of addressing the root causes of conflict;
iii. Defining the policy agenda for holistic and inclusive socio-economic transformation and development of societies emerging out of periods of conflict, serious human rights and humanitarian law violations, legacies of exclusion, and historical injustices;
iv. Encouraging and fast-tracking planning and implementation of reconstruction, national healing, and accountability of State and non-State actors for serious violations of human rights activities;
v. Enhancing synergies and coordination between and among diverse actors engaged in TJ processes, including State and non-State actors;
vi. Establishing clear parameters for the application of principles of complementarity and subsidiarity in the design, implication, monitoring, and evaluation of TJ processes.

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