Rule of Law and Justice

The legacy of conflict-related violence endures long after a peace agreement is signed. In too many cases, violence and insecurity continue or even increase for women, facilitated by large-scale impunity, the absence of effective justice systems and an unreformed security sector. Re-establishing the rule of law is foundational to women’s security, protection of rights, and, ultimately, an equitable peace.

In the aftermath of conflict, transitional justice signals a break with an unjust past. Encompassing prosecutions, truth-seeking, reparations, judicial sector reforms, national consultations and local accountability mechanisms, it lays foundations for an inclusive society based on the rule of law and accountability, and contributes to reconciliation. Despite its importance, however, until recently, too few resources were dedicated to women’s priorities and needs.

Our solutions

Today, the United Nations has a growing role in supporting transitional justice. UN Women engages with a variety of partners to comprehensively integrate gender equality provisions. We help national truth commissions respond to gender issues, and send gender experts to UN commissions of inquiry. Training equips investigators to track sexual and gender-based crimes, while work with international and national courts advances prosecutions. We assist with designing national reparations programmes so that women have ready access to them. Support for local civil society and women’s organizations encourages them to participate in strengthening justice processes.

With UN Women’s backing, women made their voices heard at Kenya’s Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, set up after post-election violence in 2007. The commission engaged with gender equality advocates and established special thematic hearings for women and children. Announcements broadcast by radio and in local markets encouraged women to record statements for the commission—nearly 15,000 were collected—and attend public hearings. This process yielded insights into persistent issues of inequality relating to discrimination, property and land ownership, sexual violence and inadequate health care. The commission is using this information for a series of recommendations, including about appropriate redress for women’s rights violations.

Through advocacy and consultations with women’s organizations in Colombia, UN Women successfully promoted provisions for women in the new Victims and Land Restitution Law. It upholds the rights of women survivors of violence to justice and reparations.

Working with a variety of partners, UN Women is training international investigators of sexual and gender-based crimes to create a pool of experts in this area. Investigators have already been provided to commissions of inquiry or fact-finding bodies in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Libya, Sri Lanka and the Syrian Arab Republic, ensuring that they can document these crimes and secure justice for women.

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