Event Description

Dates and venue: October 3 to 7, 2022 in Barcelona

Intensive Course on Transitional Justice, Violent Conflict, and Sustainable Peace


Societies that experience violent conflict often face the immense challenge of confronting the legacies of serious and massive human rights violations that were committed as part of that conflict. Transitional justice is an approach to addressing these legacies, one that aims to break cycles of violence and lay the foundations for peace by dealing with the causes and consequences of abuse. At its most effective, transitional justice is a flexible but always victim-centered approach to fostering acknowledgment, redress, accountability, and prevention through innovative, locally driven interventions that contribute to sustainable peace.

Periods of transition from war to peace offer important opportunities to come to terms with past injustice, as armed combat comes to an end, new political and governance arrangements are established, and spaces open up for people and communities to come together and reflect on what happened. But societies do not wait for peace agreements in order to start confronting human rights violations. Experiences in countries such as Colombia, Syria, and most recently Ukraine, for example, demonstrate that efforts to document crimes, prioritize victims’ rights, and even provide limited redress and accountability often begin in the immediate aftermath of the wrongs themselves.

When countries enter the political negotiations and broader peace processes that seek to end violent conflict, addressing past violations is almost always on the agenda, as in countries such as Guatemala, South Africa, El Salvador, and Sierra Leone, and currently in Libya, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. While the issue is often among the most complex and controversial elements of negotiations, addressing victims’ needs, perspectives, and justice claims is key to ensuring the credibility and legitimacy of subsequent peace agreements, which, in turn, can shape the trajectory of future transitional justice.

During and after transitions to peace, confronting past abuses can then become an important element of peacebuilding. Not only can transitional justice help to avoid the recurrence of human rights violations, it can also contribute to the prevention of violence and violent conflict. In addition to measures that are explicitly understood as guarantees of nonrecurrence, the broader preventive potential of transitional justice lies largely in its capacity to address common drivers of violence and abuse, such as exclusion and its associated grievances and the fragility and illegitimacy of institutions. Ultimately, this is a long-term process that often continues for years and even decades.

This intensive course from ICTJ examines the entirety of the relationship between transitional justice, violent conflict, and sustainable peace. This includes the nature of justice claims and initiatives while conflict is ongoing, the dynamics of addressing past abuses during peace negotiations and processes, and the contributions of addressing the past to prevention and peacebuilding in the aftermath of war. The focus of the course allows for an exploration of the processes and objectives of transitional justice, the continued evolution of the field and its role in different contexts, and its strategic value as a policy tool in the sustainable peace and development agendas. The course will address the following questions:

  • What type of justice claims do victims, civil, society, and other actors make in contexts of ongoing or protracted violent conflict? What type of justice initiatives are possible in such contexts, given the political and security constraints of war? What are the potential impacts of such claims and initiatives? What are effective strategies/approaches?
  • How do peace negotiations and peace processes address the justice claims made by victims and other stakeholders? What are the challenges faced in addressing such claims? How does it affect the credibility and legitimacy of peace agreements? What are effective strategies/approaches? What are the effects on future transitional justice processes?
  • How do transitional justice processes contribute to avoiding the recurrence of human rights violations and preventing violence and violent conflict? What is the preventive capacity of different responses to past human rights violations, such as truth, memory, reparation, accountability, gender justice, and reform? What are the constraints on this capacity?
  • How can transitional justice be integrated into broader policy frameworks and agendas related to violent conflict, peace processes, and sustainable peace and development? What are the most relevant such frameworks? What are the most effective strategies for achieving such integration? What are the challenges to such integration?

The aim is to provide course participants with a firm grounding in transitional justice efforts and insight into the challenges and opportunities of helping to avoid the recurrence of human rights violations, violence, violent conflict, and authoritarianism.

Organized by

The Barcelona International Peace Center (BIPC) jointly with The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ NY).

More info

TJ22 – Course overview, registration and fees

TJ22 – online application form

TJ22 – download and send application form

Related links

International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ)