Date:November 29, 2016

THEME TWO: Transitional Justice

Once PBI participants have a general understanding of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, they learn about the importance of transitional justice. Transitional justice refers to a set of judicial and non-judicial measures implemented by a country in order to address past human rights abuses. Topics covered in this thematic section include the evolution of transitional justice, Gacaca courts, the ICTR, and links between transitional justice and peace-building. Participants with interests in law and policy analysis find this theme particularly interesting. The 2015 group debated often the policy of freeing thousands of genocide perpetrators who confessed their actions. They discussed how this can be considered “justice” and how justice is found in their home countries.

The Evolution of Transitional Justice

Within this theme, PBI participants get an broad understanding on  evolution of Transitional Justice over the last few centuries. They get exposed on some of researches done  on Transitional Justice including categorizing its five different types: criminal, legislative, historical, symbolic, and rape justice. PBI allows participants to engage with scholars on the cutting edge of peace and conflict research such as Professor Wolfe.

Gacaca Courts

Legal experts will put Transitional Justice into the context of Rwanda. They discuss  some of the challenges and successes from the Gacaca Courts, the community-based trials held after the Genocide and a home-grown initiative. Participants met in groups to discuss and present on elements of the Gacaca process. Within each theme, participants are encouraged to develop their ideas through collaborative learning.


Legal experts will contrast their previous presentation on the Gacaca system with film clips on the more formal International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda proceedings. Participants compare the methods as forms of transitional justice which served different purposes. They considere how similar types of transitional justice may be used for other conflicts.

Responsibility to Protect and Integrated Peacebuilding Approaches

Peacebuilding expert Florence Batoni will introduce  the idea of the Responsibility to Protect. She will also present some of the various home-grown approaches which have been used for reconstruction in post-conflict Rwanda, such as Gacaca and Umuganda. Participants will discuss additional approaches which may contribute to peacebuilding, including dialogue for healing and starting with youth. Participants will be always be  encouraged to contribute their own ideas throughout the Peace Building Institute.

Lessons Learned

“On an individual level I think there is something that can be done [to protect others]. We can take advantage of platforms and influence change”-Henry, 2015 PBI participant

“I have learned about the different components that must work together to have transitional justice. I also really enjoyed learning about Rwanda’s home grown solutions.

“For transitional justice to work there must be frameworks set up to support the whole process; for instance, the legal frameworks must be updated, the history of what happens must be maintained, remedies must be available to the victims.