Event Description

Dates and venue: October 28 to November 01, 2019 in Barcelona

Intensive Course on Prevention and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence: The Role of Transitional Justice


The notion of prevention continues to be a major priority in the global policy agenda. The UN General Assembly, Security Council, and Secretary General as well as actors such as the World Bank have in recent years emphasized the importance of preventing violence and violent conflict instead of merely reacting to them. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also include the target of reducing all forms of violence, and much of the discussion around peaceful, just, and inclusive societies in the lead up to the UN High-Level Political Forum and SDG Summit in 2019 has focused on the role of prevention.

Transitional justice, which addresses the causes and consequences of massive human rights violations, has always sought to break cycles of abuse, particularly in terms of the notion of guarantees of non-recurrence. It has only been more recently, however, that transitional justice has been articulated as an integral element of sustainable peace and development, and that guarantees of non-recurrence have been defined beyond the institutional sphere. It is crucial, therefore, for practitioners and policymakers to better understand the relationship between transitional justice and prevention.

In addition to helping to ensure the non-recurrence of rights violations, transitional justice may more broadly contribute to the prevention of violence, repression, violent conflict, and authoritarianism. It may do so by addressing the root causes of violations, rebuilding social relationships, fostering trust in institutions, and reducing grievances and exclusion. At the same time, responding to past injustice may in certain circumstances make the recurrence of violence more likely, particularly if it is seen to be one-sided and unfair. Identifying what it is that transitional justice may help to prevent, how it may do so, and under what conditions is therefore critical.

This course will examine how transitional justice can contribute to prevention and guarantees of non-recurrence. It will ask a series of questions aimed at unpacking both concepts and exploring their relationship to transitional justice:

  • Does transitional justice help to prevent the recurrence of human rights violations, including economic and social rights violations; different forms of violence and repression, including gender-based violence, violent extremism, and genocide; violent conflict and authoritarianism; and human-rights related problems/crimes such as displacement and corruption?
  • What are the specific ways in which transitional justice can contribute positively to prevention? Is the contribution, for example, made by challenging the structural causes of violations, such as marginalization and inequality, including gender inequality? And/or by facilitating the reform of institutions, laws, and constitutions? And/or by overcoming divisions between groups? And/or by changing cultural values and dispositions?
  • What are the specific ways in which transitional justice can hinder or undermine prevention? Does this happen, for example, by increasing instability and creating new grievances?
  • What roles do different actors such as the state, civil society, religious actors, media, corporations, donors, and international organizations play in determining whether transitional justice contributes positively or negatively to the prevention of injustice?
  • How does context shape the preventive capacity of transitional justice processes? For example, how do political settlements, economic conditions, and institutional factors present challenges and opportunities for designing and implementing transitional justice processes that reduce the likelihood of the recurrence of violations and violence?
  • What are the implications of a preventive function for how transitional justice processes should be designed and how they should relate to other types of interventions, such as those in the fields of peacebuilding, conflict resolution, humanitarianism, and development?

The course will look at practical examples of current, past, and paradigmatic transitional justice processes and their contribution to prevention. Country case studies to be discussed may include Kenya, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Syria, the former Yugoslavia, and Latin American cases. 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

Online application form.

Application form (Word © document)

Full course description, application and fees.

Related links

International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ)