An Interrelated Set of Actors: TJ, Civil Society and the State

TJ is not simply a court, a truth commission, or other official institution. Instead, it is a complex social process in which both the state and civil society (including victims of human rights abuse) participate. Indeed, it is doubtful that any formal TJ institution has ever been successful without engaging with civil society actors, which play a wide variety of roles in TJ processes.

cogsThus, any time that a donor is considering supporting a formal TJ institution, like a court, it should also consider supporting civil society engagement. This chart visualizes the kinds of roles that civil society actors play in various stages of a TJ process and is intended to offer donors a holistic picture of the kinds of civil society actions they could support: 3


Documenting abuse and collecting other relevant data (e.g., lists of victims, witness and survivor testimony, exhumations/forensic information) to assist in TJ efforts—including finding missing persons, prosecuting human rights abusers, contributing to truth-telling and other public education initiatives.

Facilitation and Consultation

Mediating between TJ institutions and victims or local communities to ensure that local perspectives of justice are represented at the institutional level and related activities implemented at the community level; this includes the important role of contributing to the overall goals and design of TJ initiatives.

Service Delivery

Providing a broad range of services, including psychosocial support and legal assistance, or services related to the conduct of hearings and statement taking, such as transportation, food and drink, child care, etc.

Parallel Authority

Establishing parallel, civil society-led initiatives, such as uno cial truth-telling measures, particularly when states fail to live up to their obligations concerning victims’ right to a remedy.

Monitoring, Advocacy, and Providing Technical Assistance

Ensuring TJ institutions and processes (e.g., reparations, vetting) are appropriately designed and that they continuously meet local and international expectations; using litigation and other tactics when the state is not assuming its responsibilities; advocating for victim inclusion and rights.

Research and Public Education

Ongoing activities, alongside and beyond formal TJ initiatives, to raise awareness and generate public deliberation about past human rights abuse.