Impunity Watch is an international non-profit organisation,
seeking to promote accountability for past atrocities in
countries emerging from a violent past.
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What we do > Issues > Memorialisation

Recent developments in transitional justice and post-conflict transformation have seen memorialisation being given greater recognition as an important method for dealing with a violent past. Though practiced for centuries, the explicit connection between memorialisation, transformation and impunity reduction is only now attracting sustained attention.

Impunity Watch’s Memorialisation project was designed to examine the role of memorialisation after violence for tackling impunity. It is our understanding that an integrated approach is needed for dealing with the past and that conventional mechanisms such as tribunals or truth commissions will not by themselves be sufficient to ensure transformation after violence. The main objective of the project is to strengthen policymaking on memorialisation through enhancing understanding of the needs, expectations and experiences of communities affected by violence.

In combination with a series of expert meetings, we conducted comparative research in Burundi, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Guatemala and South Africa, examining the dilemmas, pitfalls and potential of memorialisation after violence. Researchers used focus groups, semi-structured interviews and other qualitative methodologies to understand memorialisation in their respective countries, examining case studies of memory initiatives to provide insight into key issues concerning the interconnection between memorialisation, cultures of silence and impunity. With the support of local partner organisations in each country, research reports for the five countries were produced. The research process aimed to engage a variety of stakeholders to stimulate critical reflection on the positive and negative aspects of memorialisation as an impunity reduction process.

A comparative analysis of the research findings was produced by Impunity Watch, taking the findings from the five country reports to offer ‘thick’ comparative findings across a number of broad areas of memorialisation. The various research reports can all be found on our Publications page.

International Memory Initiatives Exchange Forum
Together with local partners in Cambodia, Impunity Watch organised an International Memory Initiatives Exchange Forum in Phnom Penh that brought together civil society representatives, researchers, practitioners and policymakers to examine the comparative research findings. Held over five days, the Exchange Forum utilised different formats to stimulate interactive exchanges of experiences and discussions on memorialisation. For a snapshot of the Exchange Forum, take a look at our short video or the longer version including interviews with participants. The report of the Exchange Forum, including notes and major recommendations from each sessions can be found here.

Guiding Principles of Memorialisation and Next Phase
One of the key outcomes of the Exchange Forum in Cambodia was the production of a Policy Brief containing a number of Guiding Principles of Memorialisation, aimed at policymakers, donors and practitioners. In the next phase of our work on memorialisation, these Principles will be the basis for a number of international and regional exchange meetings, and the production of practical materials to assist grassroots actors. Each of our activities will aim for the practical application of our research findings, targeting increased knowledge and greater capacity on the value of memorialisation in transitional justice, especially as a bottom-up process.

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Pour plus d'informations sur le programme de Impunity Watch au Burundi cliquez ici


Para obtener información sobre el programa de Impunity Watch en Guatemala clic aquí


Impunity Watch Research Instrument
Updated Set of principles for the protection and promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity