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2012 | Christine Evans; The Right to Reparation in International Law for Victims of Armed Conflict

by Christine Evans, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva (OHCHR)
Cambridge Studies in International and Comparative Law (No. 91) 2012

As of April 2013 this book is the most up to date survey of all the legal instruments and jurisprudence to date relating to reparations. Part I traces the emergence of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ legal standards in the contexts of humanitarian law, human rights law, and international criminal law and in the jurisprudence of regional courts. The author concludes that is it not too soon to affirm the existence of a customary right of reparations. Part I also provides a detailed study of the weaknesses that have so far thwarted the advancement of the implementation of the right to reparations, and points to the challenges that still lie ahead.

Part II presents four case studies: Guatemala, Sierra Leone, East Timor and Colombia. It examines the impact of the affirmed right to reparations on the transitional justice mechanisms that were created in each of these contexts. It shows how neutrality and legitimacy have often been served by international involvement, particularly by UN organs. Some quite progressive reparations provisions have been included in the recommendations that emerged from Truth Commissions or in Peace Agreements, indicating the inescapable influence of Human Rights and Humanitarian law principles including the UN’s Basic Principles on the Right to Reparation for Victims (see our Instruments page).  Effective reparations schemes nevertheless still struggle to emerge where the acceptance of (State) responsibility is heavily resisted. The road from a Commission report or Agreement to real implementation of reparations for victims is often long and arduous. However this book charts each small advance and certainly gives reason for optimism.