2011: Transitional Justice

Annual Conference 2011

Sofia Platform: Transitional Justice


“When the people will to live,
Destiny must surely respond.
Oppression shall then vanish.
Fetters are certain to break.”
Tunisian anthem by Abu al-Qasim-asch-Schabbi

Sofia Platform emerged as an initiative aiming to bridge the experience of the countries from Central and Eastern Europe to the countries in transition in the Middle East and North Africa on a longer term. Founded by the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the kick-off event in May 2011 sketched the broad framework within which topics of relevance for the countries in transition can be tackled.
Organized around 6 panels dealing with political transition, the role of civil society and media, strategies of anti-corruption and reformation of the political institutions, the first conference in a row identified some areas of a particular importance to be dealt with timely. Among these, the participants identified the security sector reform, transitional justice, building administrative institutional capacity, building strong think-tank communities, etc. In series of follow-up events the platform continued to offer its participants both continuation and deepening in the processing of the respective topics. In this context the countries from the MENA region could both step on the pool of good practice examples and learn how to avoid possible mistakes.

Willing to share both, lessons learned and not learned, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized jointly with its partners a follow-up workshop focusing on the topic of Transitional Justice. For the sake of efficiency, the topics were narrowed down to three interconnected approaches, as follows:

Session 1: Dealing with the Past
Session 2: Justice in Times of Transition
Session 3: The Role of Civil Society

It is important to emphasize that it is the values of the active citizenship and its striving for more justice and representation that stands in the core of the events from the Arab spring, thus in the center of the following discussions. Whereas the first session focused on challenges that societies in transition face in their relationship with the justice providing system as a guarantor of their rights, the second session dealt with aspects of coping with the past, i.e. analyzing how a country can both deal and reconcile with the past. The third session introduced the role of the civil society to compensate the limitations that the rule of law solely imposes.