INOVAS: Victims and survivors launch global collective for solidarity
Victims and survivors from 10 countries launched the International Network of Victims and Survivors of Serious Human Rights Abuses (INOVAS) in a virtual public event on 8 December 2021, marking a historic step for victim-led struggles for justice and accountability around the world.
The launch follows the culminations of years of activism by up to a dozen co-founding victims and survivors from the 10 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa. The network aims to bring together victims and survivors from around the world, connecting their struggles and putting forward a unified voice to better represent those struggles in transitional justice processes that have historically been conducted in a top-down way.
Opening the event, INOVAS co-founder Ram Kumar Bhandari (Nepal) hailed the launch as a “proud moment and a historic event.”
As victims and survivors, “we felt that we needed a true representation to occupy the space in policy and justice processes,” he said, adding that “for many in the network, INOVAS reflects the culmination of years and even decades of activism,” and calling the network the "beginning of a new collective solidarity [and] international activism led by victims and survivors.”
Bhandari also welcomed “victims and survivors of all grave abuses of civil and political rights, social, economic and cultural rights, and victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity” to join INOVAS in the future.
Representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and Impunity Watch also emphasised the importance of INOVAS, given past top-down attempts at transitional justice and what the network can achieve for victims and survivors in the future.
Eveline de Bruijn, coordinator for justice and rule of law at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, said: “For too long, justice mechanisms have been serving the few, not the many,” adding that the INOVAS network represents an important step forward in putting victims and survivors at the heart of “people-centred justice.”
Participants were then shown an animated presentations and interview segments introducing INOVAS’ dozen co-founders and their aims for the network. A panel discussion chaired by INOVAS co-founder Alicia Partnoy (Argentina/USA) then put key questions to the network’s members, such as: ‘What does justice mean to you?’ and ‘How can victims and survivors around the world overcome obstacles in order to achieve justice?’
INOVAS reinforces solidarity between victims and survivors worldwide, linking organisations, groups and individuals. The network aims to provide a platform to allow their voices as claim-making agents to be heard, advocate for their rights, and help to strengthen their participation in national, regional and international processes related to justice, human rights, social change, and peace.
In-person launches were also held in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Nepal.
For more information about INOVAS, or how to get involved with the network, please visit the INOVAS website: www.inovas.ngo
In case you missed our event, you can watch it here!