A Glass Half Full: Peace and Reconciliation in Zimbabwe

On 9-11 October, The Hague Institute provided NGO activists from Zimbabwe training on international criminal law and transitional justice in Johannesburg, South Africa. Coster van Voorhout shares her experience.

“The glass is half full,” so the chair of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum contends, referring to the newly adopted Zimbabwean Constitution, which contains a clause on a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC). Technically, the NPRC has already become effective, but its Commissioners still have to be selected and its work has yet to begin. Therefore, human rights advocates gathered from 9 – 11 October in Johannesburg to discuss engagement and advocacy to ensure compliance of the NPRC with international norms and standards.

The Hague Institute provided these NGO activists with training on international criminal law and transitional justice, focusing on capacity building measures for human rights activists and practical tools from The Hague Approach. The training elaborated upon tools for fostering a rule of law culture, which go beyond rule of law procedures and institutions, such as the more centralized NPRC.

The Hague Approach principle of strategic communication was also discussed in detail, since the NGOs require popular support to get the NPRC functioning. Finally, the work of the courts, tribunals and NGOs in The Hague was addressed, with an emphasis on the Institute’s projects focusing on fact-finding and forensic evidence, as well as trainings on international criminal law and transitional justice in national jurisdictions. Reference was also made to the institute’s Model Code project and similar activities that have been carried out to date such as thetraining of Libyan judges and prosecutors.

“As a Zimbabwean, I am affected in several ways and, therefore, I plan to participate in every role possible to ensure the success of the NPRC,” a trainee stated. The Hague Institute is happy to assist in these efforts under its rule of law and conflict prevention programs.

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