These Spaces in Between: The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and Its Role in Transitional Justice


Sajjad, Tazreena. 2009. “These Spaces in Between: The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and Its Role in Transitional Justice.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 3 (3): 424–44. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijp020.

Author: Tazreena Sajjad


National human rights institutions (NHRIs) play an instrumental role in defining the human rights culture of their respective countries through their monitoring function, auditing laws, instituting human rights education and making recommendations to governments to improve human rights conditions. In countries that have experienced large-scale human rights atrocities, NHRI mandates sometimes include working to establish processes to seek accountability for war crimes. The involvement in transitional justice matters raises a new set of challenges for these institutions regarding their independence, their role in creating space for local voices and their capacity to serve as a bridge between the government and national and international actors. Using as a case study the experience of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), the author identifies several key areas within which this particular NHRI has had to negotiate the tensions between the political and the legal, and the local and the international. A close examination of each of these areas reveals the common challenges NHRIs face in taking on a transitional justice mandate, as well as the particular strengths and limitations of the AIHRC and its creativity and resolve in working in extremely difficult circumstances to seek accountability for the past.

Topics: Impunity, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan

Year: 2009

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