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End of year message from our Executive Director Marlies Stappers

Dear friends and colleagues,

As 2021 draws to a close, I want to take a moment to thank you for all your support and solidarity.

This year has once again been a challenging one in our struggle for peace, justice and the rule of law. As the world continues to grapple with Covid-19 and other crises, we have seen inequalities widen, social justice undermined and hard-won rights scaled back.

In Afghanistan, a humanitarian catastrophe unfolded (and continues to unfold) before our eyes as we commemorated 9/11 and the beginning to the so-called war on terror.

The most vulnerable and marginalised communities are paying the highest price for these crises, and yet are systematically excluded from decision-making processes that affect their lives. 

The international community response, on the whole, has been woefully inadequate. Short-term security interests are still prioritised over tackling structural inequalities and building more fair and inclusive political and economic systems.

This is why I am so grateful for the efforts of the many grassroots activists who are working tirelessly to unearth injustices and show us how democracy should be done. They give us hope, even in the midst of crisis.

Impunity Watch is proud to work with several of them, from the Syrian victim organisations launching a charter to ensure truth and justice for those forcefully detained or disappeared in Syria; to young ‘peace brokers’ in Burundi engaging in constructive discussions about violence and memory; and justice leaders from Guatemala coming together to speak out against growing impunity and corruption.

Drawing the year to a close, a group of victim organisations launched the International Network of Victims and Survivors for Serious Human Rights Violations (INOVAS) - a truly global movement that aims to address the systems that drive impunity and ensure victim needs are met in justice processes. 

These ‘bottom-up’ initiatives have the enormous potential to catalyse meaningful change. As INOVAS Co-Founder Miguel Itzep put it:

“Every time justice is achieved, it creates moments of light.” 

But these initiatives need to be strengthened. Building a community of support and solidarity around grassroots movements will increase their chances of being heard by those in power, and to make a lasting impact.

The task ahead seems overwhelming, and yet support from all of you thus far shows that a growing number of people are willing to speak up for those left behind in traditional decision-making processes.

Our wish for 2022 is to build a broader global movement calling for change in the existing systems that perpetuate the root causes of crises. Please join us.

In the meantime, I wish you and your loved ones a very happy Holiday Season, and a healthy and peaceful New Year.

Marlies