Building a Foundation for Justice in South Sudan: An Agenda for the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGONU)

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The Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG)
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Addressing the legacies of mass human rights violations is a daunting task for any society emerging from conflict. The challenges are all the more complex in South Sudan, where people have struggled with civil wars, state repression, and developmental neglect for generations. With the current conflict, transitional justice – or the range of judicial and nonjudicial measures that countries emerging from a period of conflict or authoritarian rule use to address past human right violations – has come onto the agenda for the first time. However, the foundational elements that are required for transitional justice interventions to succeed are lacking. Political leaders are largely uninformed about the role that transitional justice can play in restoring peace, and some are deeply uncomfortable with the notion of scrutinizing and holding people accountable for wartime abuses. Survivors are conspicuously absent from discussions about how best to address the legacies of the conflict, and human rights advocates are confronted with an ever-shrinking civic space. Moreover, there are real fears that the tense peace that currently exists among most armed groups could collapse at any moment and the country could return to full-scale civil war.

The uncertainties of the current situation make it all the more important for South Sudanese to develop a carefully considered plan for transitional justice that identifies priorities and sequences activities in a manner that sustains and builds momentum over time. Most importantly, transitional justice interventions must be tailored to the context and designed and implemented in a manner that is meaningful to South Sudanese. Transitional justice in South Sudan will be a generational undertaking. While the current generation may not realize the full rewards of their efforts, it is nonetheless incumbent upon us to begin the process and establish a strong foundation that subsequent generations might build upon.
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