Transitional Justice

UNDP provides support to transitional justice processes to address legacies of mass human rights violations following the end of conflict or collapse of a repressive regime. With the objectives of securing justice, sustaining peace, and supporting sustainable development, transitional justice processes deal with the past while working toward a brighter the future. UNDP supports Member States to strengthen mechanisms and processes that promote accountability, address impunity, seek truth, and facilitate reparations. UNDP also connects these transitional justice processes to longer-term prevention and development efforts by supporting institutional reform to safeguard non-recurrence of violence and large-scale violations of human rights. Throughout all of our efforts, we ensure that victims are at the centre of transitional justice processes, by fostering their engagement and participation as well as promote broad-based national ownership for sustainability.

The only survivor of the Zecovi massacre at the cemetary in Bosnia and Herzgovina where identified missing persons are laid to rest. - © Armin Smailovic / UNDP

Two decades after the end of the conflicts in the Western Balkans, more than 10,000 persons are still missing and a significant backlog of war crimes cases remain unresolved. This continues to pose considerable challenges for reconciliation and long-term stability in the region.

Ensuring regional cooperation is of the utmost importance to promote accountability for conflict-related atrocities and resolve the fates of the missing, which is now exclusively the responsibility of national judiciaries after the closure of International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in December 2017. To support this aim, UNDP launched a regional initiative - the Regional War Crimes Project: Justice for the Victims and Missing Persons - which seeks to strengthen cross-border collaboration, including information and evidence sharing as well as mutual assistance in investigations among Prosecution Offices and Institutions for Missing Persons of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia. This initiative currently provides the only platform for regional cooperation between the prosecution services of the four affected contexts to discuss war crimes cases and has already resulted in improved relations and mutual trust between prosecutors.

In addition to supporting daily communication and 14 bilateral meetings, UNDP facilitated the discussion of 17 war crimes cases and joint investigations, where the suspects, witnesses, and evidence are in multiple countries through the platform in 2018. The platform also enabled four regional meetings to take place between the State Prosecutors and Institutions for Missing Persons, which led to two bilateral agreements for cooperation among Institutions for Missing Persons.

Going forward, UNDP will continue to invest in this platform to narrow the impunity gap and decrease the number of missing persons in the region. UNDP is also looking to expand the project to enhance the availability and accessibility of judicial witness and victim support services as well as outreach to victims and the public as essential elements for sustaining peace in the region.