'Reparations, Responsibility and Victimhood in Transitional Societies Conference
On 31st August 2022 the final conference of the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded 'Reparations, Responsibility and Victimhood in Transitional Societies' was held in Riddel Hall.
The project led by Dr Luke Moffett brought together academics, practitioners and victims to reflect on reparations and the findings of the project. The project itself ran for five years and involved over 250 interviews with over 400 individuals in Colombia, Guatemala, Nepal, Northern Ireland, Peru, South Sudan and Uganda, as well as curating a database on the practice of reparations, which include over 500 entries from over 100 countries. The project published 14 country or thematic reports and a dozen articles, chapters, op-eds and blogs, which are all available on the project website.
The conference was opened by Dr Luke Moffett giving an overview of the project and some of the key findings. This was followed by the recently appointed Commissioner for Victims and Survivors Ian Jeffers gave a keynote speech highlighted some of the achievement as well as the continuing unaddressed legacy issues. The conference was made up of four panels that covered the role of victims, civil society and donors in reparations, as well as the role of responsible actors such as States and non-state armed groups in making reparations.
As part of the completion of the project, the conference involved the release of three key outputs of the project: a handbook for engaging non-state armed groups on reparations; another handbook on the role of civil society organisations and donors in supporting reparations; and the Belfast Guidelines on Reparations in Post-Conflict Societies. All of these documents draw from the project's fieldwork findings and analysis of the reparations database. As well as being freely available and accessible, these three outputs have been translated into the main languages of the United Nations (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish).
The handbook for engaging non-state armed groups on reparations draws provides practical insights into how armed groups can provide reparations as not simply a legal obligation, but as part of the normalisation in society and humanisation of their victims and their own experience of harm during the conflict. The handbook on civil society organisations and donors underscores the value and challenges of involving such actors in reparation claims, while on the one hand they can provide invaluable in mobilising victims, advocating for redress and building networks, they can also involve competition over limited resource, face framing their work in short-term projects or donor priority issues and risk becoming service providers of the state rather than agitating for the delivery of victims' rights.
The final session of the conference launched the Belfast Guidelines on Reparations in Post-Conflict Societies. The guidelines build on the 2005 UN Basic Principles and Guidance on the Right to Remedy and Reparations for Grave Breaches of Human Rights and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law. The Guidelines are based on fieldwork findings, workshops held in Bogota, Geneva and New York as well as virtual sessions with reparation experts. The Guidelines tackle the implementation gap between the rights and principles set out in international law and the delivery of reparations to victims. The Guidelines make a number of innovations on the 2005 Basic Principles including gender-sensitivity, a broader recognition of harm from conflict (such as the environment), the place of interim reparations and making amends during conflict, as well as setting out good practices on how to develop regulations for a reparation programme. It is hoped that the Guidelines can help to dispel some of the complexity and ambiguity on realising the right to remedy and reparations for victims caught up in war. The Guidelines will be followed up by Dr Moffett's forthcoming monograph with Oxford University Press in December 2022 - 'Reparations and War: Finding Balance in Repairing the Past,' which provides more detail, context and insights into the interviews during the project.
Dr Luke Moffett
School of LawView Profile