Conflict & Justice

UN Women/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Preventing and ending conflict, and rebuilding in its aftermath is a complex, context-specific process. During and after violent conflicts, what strategies and tactics are most effective in creating both justice and sustainable and lasting peace? What lessons can we learn from past experiments with transitional and restorative justice mechanisms? How can human rights actors be more effective at reducing and preventing acts of violence, and what does that mean for the human rights movement’s relationship to both victims and perpetrators of violence?


Indonesia’s reparations program: Hope for justice or hollow promise?

By: Rafsi Albar

To redress its history of human rights violations, the Indonesian government needs to hold responsible actors to account, including those still in power.

Democratizing justice in an era of populist ascent

By: Meg Satterthwaite & Katarina Sydow

When autocrats undermine justice systems, democratizing the courts can help build back trust.

Archives and the fight against impunity

By: Jens Boel
Español | Français

Archives can be—and often are—instrumental in the fight against impunity.

Uyghurs stuck in the US asylum system have no time to lose

By: Henryk Szadziewski

As of March 2023, delays in most Uyghur cases across the asylum system are due to court date scheduling.

To renew the International Criminal Court, look to the regional rights institutions

By: Jamie O'Connell & James Cavallaro

The ICC can do better by learning from regional human rights institutions.

When the Ferguson uprising came to Geneva

By: Joel R. Pruce

A shadow report presented to the Committee Against Torture brought police brutality in the US to an international human rights scenario.

Backlash against individual access to the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights

By: Mihreteab Tsighe Taye

Rwanda’s case illustrates the risks of withdrawing from regional human rights bodies.

Activists face police surveillance outside protest settings in Minnesota

By: Isabel Huot-Link & Angela Rose Myers & Socorro Topete

Protesters of African descent, victims of police brutality, and their families need accountability and healing to find justice.

When human rights go backwards: four lessons

By: Shaharzad Akbar & David Griffiths

What can we learn from the setbacks suffered by human rights?

Backsliding on children’s participation rights within a protection discourse

By: Tracey Holland & Yeonjae Hwang

Victimhood can easily disempower children and silence their voices as well as their claims to human rights, particularly their participation rights.

Gendered juvenile detention in the Philippines

By: Pamela Camacho & Steffen Jensen

In Duterte’s war on drugs, women victims have been largely invisible.

AI and autonomous weapons arms transfers

By: Bryanna Rainwater & Lana Baydas

A lack of consensus among states regarding the regulation of AI weapons is an opportunity for rights groups to use international human rights law to push for clear ...

Rights at risk: Russia’s withdrawal from the ECtHR

By: Courtney Hillebrecht
Español | Русский | Українська

The stakes of Russia’s withdrawal are exceedingly high—for past and present victims and for the Court itself.

Addressing the threat that mines pose to civilians in Ukraine

By: Kathryn Hampton
Español | Українська

While it is imperative that parties to the conflict must stop using landmines, we are also faced with the question of how to respond when they do not.

The injustice of the death penalty for drug offenses

By: Giada Girelli

Is justice really ‘just’ when it puts to death the vulnerable and the powerless?

Radical uncertainty and human rights

By: Garth Meintjes

We would do better to deepen our understanding of human rights as a kind of reference narrative that can help to guide decision-making in the face of radical uncertainty.

Human rights and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine: an alternative proposal

By: Koldo Casla

Putin’s aggression requires a human rights strategy that accounts for existing power relationships, and attempts to steer the balance in the direction of peace.

A case against U.S. liberal internationalism nostalgia

By: Natalie R. Davidson

A new book revisits ATS litigation, suggesting that the retreat of the U.S. judicial system from its commitment to international human rights has positive implications.

How Kazakhstan’s control of information can turn into a regime weakness

By: Pavlina Pavlova
Español | Русский

Network interference and internet shutdowns in the Central-Asian country have become a staple method of stifling the free flow of information during politically ...

When did it become illegal to defend human rights?

By: Laurel E. Fletcher & Khalid Ibrahim

In the age of the internet, online human rights activism needs to be supported—and protected—as a vital part of the cybercommunications ecosystem.

It is time to make ecocide an international crime

By: James Dawes

“The time is right to harness the power of international criminal law to protect our global environment.”

What does the right to a healthy environment mean for wildlife crime?

By: Tamara Léger & Rob Parry-Jones

Understanding RTHE through the lens of wildlife crime is a reminder that tackling crime through a rights-based approach contributes to the fulfilment of human rights.

The vitality of human rights in turbulent times

By: Gráinne de Burca

If attention is directed towards the dynamism of social movements and human rights activism around the world, a different set of views of the cathedral emerges.

Who will defend the defenders in Turkey?

By: Netherlands Helsinki Committee
Español | Türkçe

In today’s Turkey, lawyers themselves are being targeted—just for practicing their profession in accordance with the law.

More than lack of capacity: active impunity in Mexico

By: Patricia Cruz Marín & James Cavallaro & Alejandro Anaya Muñoz

Impunity in Mexico is not accidental, random, or involuntary. Instead, impunity results from a chain of actions taken with the express purpose of undermining investigations.

The inflated cost of defending human rights

By: Meredith Veit
Español | Français | Português | हिन्दी | Русский

The impact of lockdowns has been costly in more ways than one.

The urgency of combating stigmatization and criminalization of human rights defenders

By: Meredith Veit
Español | Português | हिन्दी | Français | Русский

We should continue to advocate for imprisoned HRDs whose rights have been most restricted, as well as focus on preventative protection to ensure that their conditions ...

Adapting tech tools for human rights monitoring: lessons from Burundi

By: Vincent Ploton & Connie Moon Sehat
Español | Français

Tech tools can provide great opportunities and challenges to document human rights violations, notably in contexts of acute crisis.

Risking your life for human rights during a pandemic

By: Meredith Veit
Español | Français | हिन्दी | Português | Русский

Limitations on fundamental freedoms have been purposely and disproportionately used against activists who have refused to put their work on pause.

What the French Revolution can tell us about the history of social rights

By: Charles Walton
Español | العربية | Français

Achieving a consensus on the terms of social obligation in a society based on equality is both complex and extremely important.

Human rights open frontier: resistance and resilience

By: Ruti Teitel

How much does the experience with humanitarian intervention account for the questioning of human rights, and to what extent is this experience central to cutting ...

Sexual violence against males gains interest as an international security threat

By: Cristian Ramos Miranda

Acknowledging men and boys as victims and survivors after decades of neglect and skepticism, proves that the Council is increasingly taking the security implications ...

Memory and human rights from the voices of women in Argentina

By: Mariana Rulli & Lucía Zanfardini

On the 45th anniversary of the beginning of the last civic-military dictatorship in Argentina, this project aims to recover the voices of woman that had been previously ...

British U-turn on torture shows how human rights advocacy can work

By: Frank Foley

The UK looked set to undermine the international prohibition against torture, but relentless campaigning and shaming forced a change.

A step towards justice for Tamils in Sri Lanka?

By: Vivetha Thambinathan & Thevya Balendran

The UNHRC should explore and employ a wide range of tools and mechanisms to address human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Collaborative research in the midst of crisis: an observatory on disappearance and impunity in Mexico

By: Karina Ansolabehere

How The Minnesota Model helped this organization understand its own identity and role in advocating for Mexico's disappeared or missing persons.

Syrians disagree on how to pursue justice: So what’s next?

By: Jamie D. Wise
Español | العربية

To effectively promote lasting peace, responses to the violence in Syria must account for incompatible—and even irreconcilable—demands for justice.

Gender and war: rethinking harmful research practices in 2021

By: María Daniela D. Villamil

A Colombian lawyer and professor reflects on how research can serve as a complement to peacebuilding, but also as a catalyst for further conflict and trauma.

Protesting for racial justice, met with excessive force

By: Donna McKay & Michele Heisler

McKay and Heisler reflect on the role of medical personnel when treating patients victims of excessive police force.

What are the implications of International Human Rights NGOs moving to the South?

By: Ravindran Daniel

The closure of Amnesty International’s India office raises questions about AI's global strategy and the democratization of the global human rights movement.

“Yazidi Female Survivors Law” in Iraq is groundbreaking but not enough

By: Kristin Smith & Sonali Dhawan

The new “Yazidi Female Survivors Law”, while groundbreaking, is too narrow to address the needs of some of Iraq’s most vulnerable communities.

From impunity to justice and back again in Guatemala

By: Rachel Lopéz

Guatemalan citizens must unite to resist the efforts of Guatemala’s clandestine powers to dismantle justice—but they cannot do it alone.

The right to reparation: laudable goal or empty promise?

By: Bojan Gavrilovic

Human rights activists argue that victims of mass atrocities have a right to reparations, but the international community still struggles around how to fulfil this ...

Transitional justice—time for a re-think

By: Paul Seils

The transitional justice toolkit was developed for circumstances unlike most of today’s violent conflicts. It needs to be re-thought to provide results on issues ...

The moral hazards of conflating what is useful with what is right

By: Mythri Jayaraman

To suggest that we should only seek to understand perpetrators if it’s “useful” is contrary to the universality of human dignity.

Engage when we can, confront when we must

By: Navaz Kotwal

Indian human rights workers do not want to engage with the police, but to enact real change, both sides must work together.

Accountability versus access: collaborating with rights violators in conflict zones

By: Christine Monaghan

In health care, both access and accountability require understanding and collaborating with rights violators.

Why engaging with perpetrators isn’t possible in Iran (yet)

By: Mahmood Monshipouri

Engagement with Iranian human rights perpetrators might help someday, but in the current political climate it’s simply not possible.

Navigating the minefield of working with perpetrators

By: Danielle Celermajer

Judgments about when collaboration becomes cooptation are too easily made in the abstract, based on moral tastes rather than evidence.

To understand perpetrators, we must care about them

By: James Dawes

Preventing future atrocities requires empathetic understanding of how regular people transform into monsters.

To change torture practices, we must change the entire system

By: Kiran Grewal

Preventing torture goes beyond understanding individuals—it requires changing an entire system that allows for extreme violence.

Working with the enemy: the pros and cons of collaborating with perpetrators

By: Rachel Wahl
Español | हिन्दी

What is the best way for human rights activists to engage with perpetrators? There are ethical and strategic reasons to focus on accountability over understanding, ...

Imagining justice for ethnic communities in Colombia

By: Helen Kerwin

Reparations for conflict-related harms as set out in the peace accords are only a fraction of many pending debts owed to Colombia’s ethnic communities.

Why America needs a truth commission

By: Todd Landman 

In the United States, gun deaths over the last three decades far exceed those reported in truth commissions and civil wars around the world in the 1970s, 1980s ...

When international agendas trump the people’s demand for reform, no one wins

By: Ahilan Kadirgamar & Swasthika Arulingam 

As Sri Lanka moves on a new constitution and transitional justice process, it must prioritize local concerns of deepening economic inequalities over an international ...

Action on justice facilitates political solutions to conflict

By: Niran Anketell

Taking decisive steps towards accountability will be critical to reconciliation in Sri Lanka before frustrations rise again.

Holding businesses to account in Latin America

By: Nelson Camilo Sanchez

Colombia and Argentina are taking steps to hold businesses accountable for human rights abuses – will they be effective?

The ‘soft vengeance’ of peace in Colombia

By: César Rodríguez-Garavito

An agreement recently concluded between the Colombian government and the FARC rebels promises both peace and justice, and deserves support by human rights advocates.

Paying for human rights violations: perceptions of the Colombian peace process

By: Ryan E. Carlin & Jennifer L. Mccoy & Jelena Subotic

New research shows that providing context for human rights issues yields a broader range of responses to peace talks in Colombia.

Reframing the justice debate in Colombia

By: Paul Seils

The debate about whether or not—or how—to punish the crimes committed in Colombia’s long civil war should focus instead on the objectives punishment might achieve.

Stay connected! Join our weekly newsletter to stay up-to-date on our newest content.  SUBSCRIBE