Campaigning for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights, Democracy, the Rule of Law and International Justice
NPWJ strategy on international criminal justice
NPWJ’s International Criminal Justice program focuses both on international and national efforts to restore the rule of law and provide accountability and redress for the victims of crimes under international law, be they through the International Criminal Court, or through ad hoc Courts or Tribunals, national prosecutions or other accountability processes. The overall objective of the International Criminal Justice Program is to ensure that whatever solution is adopted, it is shaped and implemented so that it can contribute to the restoration of the rule of law, it is responsive to the needs of stakeholders and it adheres to the strictest human rights standards.
NPWJ’s ICJP Program has four main strategic objectives, developed as a result of our work over the last 16 years, which are constantly reviewed according to changing political, social and legal landscapes, to consolidate gains and anticipate future priority areas:
(1) ensuring broad support for accountability as a systematic response to massive violations of human rights and international criminal law;
(2) reducing the expectation of impunity and removing the perception of rewards for violence on the part of parties to the conflict, potential perpetrators, victims and affected populations;
(3) increasing the impact, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of accountability mechanisms to stakeholders; and
(4) promoting universality of the Rome ICC Statute by promoting its ratification and effective implementing legislation.
(1) Contribute to broad support for accountability as a systematic response to massive violations of human rights and international criminal law
Countries that have recourse to or have implemented accountability processes following periods of violations of human rights or international criminal law are generally more likely to achieve sustainable peace and development, including poverty reduction, and are less likely to return to conflict or violence. Consistent public messages about accountability during ongoing conflict or violence is an important factor in dampening the violence and reducing the number or scope of violations that are committed. Key elements in achieving this are decision-makers’ policies, civil society advocacy and favourable public opinion, particularly within the country where violations have occurred. A demonstrated commitment to accountability, for example through ratification and implementation of the ICC Rome Statute, will also be an important element. In addition, accountability processes are more likely to be effective when they are supported by civil society, victims and the populations that are affected by their work. Public opinion within countries that might support accountability processes elsewhere, for example within donor countries, will also be an important element in decision-making about whether to extend that support. It is important for accountability to become an automatic response when faced with massive violations of human rights or international criminal law, particularly during the early stages of conflict resolution or attention to a situation, and to broaden and deepen support for accountability by a range of stakeholders. NPWJ employs a variety of methods to influence policy-development and public opinion, including advocacy, technical assistance, outreach, capacity-building and public campaigns. We work in a variety of countries where accountability processes are needed or are ongoing, working directly and by supporting local partners. Current focus-countries for this strategic objective are Afghanistan, Kenya, Lebanon, Sudan, Uganda and the MENA region as a whole. We also work globally through engagement with States, the ICC, the United Nations, the European Union and other international bodies.
(2) Reduce the expectation of impunity and remove the perception of rewards for violence on the part of parties to the conflict, potential perpetrators, victims and affected populations.
One factor potential perpetrators consider in deciding whether or not to commit violations is the likelihood of facing an accountability process. This is influenced by a range of factors, including whether an accountability process exists or is likely to be established, the likelihood of being called to account, the likely level of political support to shield the perpetrator and the level of public opinion in favour of perpetrators being called to account. It is important to reduce the expectation of impunity and remove rewards for violence by making accountability more likely. At the same time, victims and affected populations who believe there will be impunity for violations committed against them are generally less likely to have trust in institutions or in the State itself, creating a cycle in which conflict and violence are more likely to continue. Reducing the expectation of impunity increases the likelihood of victims and affected populations (re)gaining trust in public institutions, which also strengthens the ability of accountability mechanisms to play a role in conflict reduction and prevention, sustainable peace and development, including poverty reduction. NPWJ seeks to influence these factors in favour of reducing the expectation of impunity and the perception of reward for violence through a variety of methods, including technical assistance, advocacy, outreach, capacity-building and public campaigns. Since this objective is closely related to the first, it is pursued in the same countries where accountability processes are needed or are ongoing as well as at the international level.
(3) Increase the impact, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of accountability mechanisms to stakeholders, in particular for victims and populations affected by violations.
Accountability mechanisms may be designed and implemented according to the highest international standards, but their effectiveness is limited if they are not responsive to the needs and aspirations of their stakeholders, as they will have little impact in promoting deterrence, redress and contributing to sustainable peace and development in the countries where violations were committed. To be responsive, accountability mechanisms need to consult regularly with stakeholders on the ground, engage them in two-way interaction regarding their mandate and operations, promote participation of stakeholders in their work and be transparent and accountable to victims and affected communities on the ground. NPWJ seeks to achieve this objective through a variety of methods, including advocacy, technical assistance and campaigns. Current focus countries for this objective include the ICC’s situation countries, in particular the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya and Uganda. NPWJ also engages with the ICC and its States parties to promote support for a stronger international justice system that is more responsive to victims and affected communities, and more effective in ending impunity.
(4) promoting complementarity and universality of the Rome ICC Statute through ratification and effective implementing legislation.
The promotion of the universality of the Rome Statute and the adoption of national legislation implementing international criminal justice obligations also remains a high priority for NPWJ, as does supporting the practical operation of the principle of complementarity, whereby the ICC acts as a catalyst, as a guardian and as a last resort for the effective investigation and prosecution of serious crimes under international law. NPWJ’s work includes the promotion of local efforts to narrow the impunity gap, including through non‑judicial, quasi-judicial and neo-traditional accountability mechanisms. NPWJ aims in particular to increase awareness and building capacity of local actors on international and transitional justice issues in which NPWJ has specialist expertise, including conflict mapping, outreach and the needs of children in accountability mechanisms.
NPWJ aims to address these needs through its work on a range of different initiatives, including:
- Supporting Transitional Justice, Accountability and Reconciliation in the MENA Region
- Supporting the Democratic Transition in Tunisia through Transitional Justice
- Supporting the establishment of the Transitional Justice Academy in Tunisia
- Supporting Libya’s Democratic Transition through Justice and Accountability
- Supporting Capacity Building of human rights violations monitoring of Civil Society in Bahrain
- Strengthening the field presence of the International Criminal Court
- Promoting implementation of the principle of complementarity
- International Criminal Justice and Children