No Peace Without Justice Needs Your Help to Continue Our Vital Human Rights Work

1 December 2023

FROM: NPWJ’S PRESIDENT, TARA (REYNOR) O’GRADY
TO: ALL FRIENDS AND PARTNERS OF NO PEACE WITHOUT JUSTICE AND ALL ADVOCATES FOR PEACE, JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS
 

My name is Tara (Reynor) O’Grady and since June 2023, I have been the President of No Peace Without Justice. We need a few moments of your time right now to read this message, and are asking for your help to overcome the greatest crisis we have faced as an organisation so far. 
 
In May next year, No Peace Without Justice should turn 30. We are, however, facing the very real possibility that we will not see that anniversary. 
 
Since our establishment, No Peace Without Justice has worked tirelessly to promote and protect human rights, often in difficult and dangerous parts of the world, campaigning in support of democracy and the rule of law. Our iconic campaigns have contributed to world-changing events, including the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic; the establishment of the International Criminal Court and the revision of its founding Rome Statute some 10 years later; the World Victims Football Cup on the eve of the ICC Review Conference; the establishment of the Special Court for Sierra Leone; the UN General Assembly’s adoption of a Resolution Banning Female Genital Mutilation Worldwide; and the Gathering by Chief Raoni of indigenous leaders across Amazonia. We held two conferences on democracy and rights in Yemen before the civil war broke out; we have encouraged dialogue between the ethno-political components in Iraq for a constitution that recognised the needs of the various regions; and we have supported the documentation of ecocide in Brazil in collaboration with the leaders of the Amazon. 
 
We have promoted the rights of the child and human rights with civil society and governments in Africa and the Balkans, and in the nearby “greater” MENA region from Bahrain to Libya, from Morocco to Afghanistan, via Yemen and Syria. We have had official recognition but also powerful adversaries, such as when we exposed ourselves in denouncing the undue influence of third countries within the European Institutions; or when we supported Hatice Cengiz in her quest for justice for her murdered fiancé, Jamal Khashoggi; and much more. 
 
We support civil society actors to denounce violations against them at home and to activate regional and international mechanisms, including the UN, on the rights of women and girls, the use of chemical weapons (Syria), extra-judicial killings (the Philippines), mother and baby homes (Ireland), the rights of indigenous people and much more. We have helped civil society actors and national human rights institutions to strengthen their human rights documentation, from Afghanistan to Sierra Leone. We have supported the drive for legislative and policy change to improve human rights protections, redress for violations and environmental protection globally. 
 
Of course, NPWJ didn’t do this alone. Over the years we have created or joined coalitions, networks and alliances around the world together with hundreds of non-governmental organisations. We have carried out our work as founding members of the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court and thanks to the special consultative status we have with the UN Economic and Social Council, a hard-won affiliation gained against the opposition of powerful countries such as Russia and China. 
 
We are no strangers to working under difficult conditions. We have faced troubled political situations, financial crises and risks to the safety of our staff and partners. Since December 2022, however, we have been going through the most extreme situation yet: our very existence is threatened by the “biggest scandal facing the European Union”, known as Qatargate. 
 
We have survived almost a year of harassment that began with the arbitrary and unjust arrest and detention of our Secretary-General, Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, on 9 December 2022. His unfair preventive detention lasted for 2 months in degrading conditions in the notorious Saint Gilles prison, the reason for his arrest remaining unclear to this day. 
 
We believe we are being targeted because of our human rights work, with those who fight for human rights falling prey to those who violate them. This is the experience of many human rights defenders, who are accused of criminal actions such as sedition, fraud, money laundering, corruption, sexual harassment, tax evasion and so on based on suspicions, or spurious or made-up grounds. There is an expression for this way of operating, which is known as “lawfare”.
 
The most public manifestation of the lawfare waged against us is defamation of our good name and that our Secretary-General. For weeks, the traditional press and social media did not bother to delve into the merits of the issue; when they did, having understood who they were writing about, they put an end to their “scoops” without any attempt to reverse or reconstruct the damage they had done. In addition to reputation, there was grave material damage, including seizure of assets (including phones and computers necessary to do our work), freezing of bank accounts, seizure of funds (both personal and organisational) and the destruction of our donor base and our credit ratings. At a time when it was necessary to guarantee the rights of those who have always defended the rights of others, the European liberal-democratic institutions and others forgot who we are and turned their backs on us. 
 
On 24 October, No Peace Without Justice was formally and finally reinstated in the EU Transparency Register, after the European Union made an official finding that there was no breach whatsoever of any EU rules nor of the EU Code of Conduct that regulates of our human rights advocacy activities. This is no news for NPWJ, but it is a significant vindication coming at the end of a ten-month long investigation by the EU. In Belgium, the Qatargate investigation itself is now under judicial review, to determine whether any violations committed invalidate the whole process. 
 
While these are positive developments on the judicial side, significant damage has been done. The possibility of not being able to celebrate our 30th anniversary is real. The Belgian authorities, through the Italian authorities, have taken nearly all the money in our bank account that was destined to support human rights work in Libya, Afghanistan (two contexts where few organisations are able to work) and elsewhere. 
 
We seriously and urgently need your support, in the form of an unrestricted donation of whatever you can afford to give, to help us reach the current target of 300,000 Euro by 31 December 2023. The survival of a history of commitment and objectives achieved depends on it. 
 

  1. Download the appeal in English, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese (pdf format)

 
For any further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch on appeal@npwj.org. You can also become an NPWJ member or donate through our website: http://www.npwj.org/node/791