A Truth Commission Strengthens Rule of Law

A truth commission in the Western Balkans would contribute to the democratisation process and to strengthening the rule of law. This was the expressed opinion of the participants at a recently arranged conference in Brussels by, among others, the Humanitarian Law Centre, our cooperation partner.

Those who took part in the conference agreed that actors of civil society in all countries of the Western Balkans desire an enactment of a regional process intended to deal with the past. A truth commission would contribute to the countries reaching the set up standards for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU. It would also be a contributing factor towards democratisation and rule of law within the region by giving groups that have been discriminated against a voice as well as by making it possible to investigate additional war crimes. The conference gathered scholars, representatives of civil society and representatives of various EU establishments.

“The present conference is an important step in the process that we and several of our partners in the Western Balkans are involved in. A truth commission implies a move towards sustainable peace in the Western Balkans. It would also give individuals a chance to process their past, which is a necessary to be able to move on,” says Marie Månson, Program Director for Western Balkans at Civil Rights Defenders.

In November, Civil Rights Defenders arranged a breakfast seminar with Natasa Kandic from the Humanitarian Law Centre, one of the initiators of RECOM, a network that works for a truth commission in the Balkans. She related that this work in and of itself has contributed to the reconciliation process between ethnic groups by giving people a chance to meet and take part of each other’s accounts of what happened.

In cooperation with the Bosnian Research and Documentation Centre and the Croatian Documenta, the Humanitarian Law Centre established a network called RECOM. The objective of this network is to form a regional truth commission in the Western Balkans, and hence contribute to a public debate on the war crimes that were committed and facilitate for the victims and their relatives to make themselves heard. RECOM consists of human rights associations, war veterans, relatives of the victims of the conflicts in the region and youth and women associations.

Read more here.