Past Event April 23-28, 2019

Foundations for Peace: An Introduction to Human Rights and Transitional Justice in Asian Contexts

Download the course outline here.

Course Background

In 2010, the UN Secretary-General issued a guidance note on transitional justice, affirming the key principles and a way forward to strengthening the rule of law. Transitional justice is defined as “the full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempt to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale past abuses in order to ensure accountability, serve justice, and achieve reconciliation.” (“The rule of law and transitional justice in post-conflict societies,” Report of UN Secretary-General, 2004). Many countries in Asia are in transition towards stronger democracies as a foundation for sustainable peace. What contributions do human rights and transitional justice make to sustainable peace?

Timor-Leste, Thailand, and South Korea have established truth commissions, while other Asian countries and territories have the unrealised promise of a truth commission built into peace agreements or special autonomy settlements. The prosecution of perpetrators of serious crimes in Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Bangladesh have led to mixed outcomes. Although governments in Thailand, Aceh (Indonesia), and Nepal have provided some interim relief for victims, no country in Asia offers a comprehensive reparations program, and the majority of Asian countries have yet to ratify the Rome Statute. The lack of a strong, regional organisation in Asia to protect and promote human rights makes the struggle to combat impunity in Asia difficult.

This six-day foundational course will bring together civil society actors from across the region to learn lessons from the field, human rights principles, and best practices for accountability. AJAR will also invite human rights practitioners as resource persons to share their concrete experiences of working in difficult transitions. This foundational course will encourage debate and exchange among participants and will include sharing and reflection on country contexts and innovative transitional justice strategies.

Transitions to democracies based on the rule of law may take decades to achieve. Increasing expertise and knowledge in Asia can be a bridge to the pursuit of accountability for mass crimes through policy change, broadened cross-regional collaboration, and innovative human rights initiatives. This bi-annual intensive course facilitates learning for those who seek to study and address challenges to justice and peace commonly faced in transitional settings in Asia.

What Participants Can Expect From the Course:

  • A solid understanding of human rights, transitional justice, and emerging issues, particularly in Asian contexts
  • Training and facilitation led by experts from the field
  • An opportunity to network with participants and practitioners from Asia and beyond.
  • A participatory and mutual learning environment
  • A comfortable setting in the semi-modern and eco-friendly Kampung Damai training centre within walking distance of the south coast of Bali

Course Goals and Objectives

  1. Develop a concrete understanding of transitional justice and conflict transformation, including their major elements and theories
  2. Enhance capacity to understand and address conflict at interpersonal, community, and macro levels, through analytical tools and group work
  3. Share best practices and lessons learned on transitional justice and peacebuilding in the Asia region
  4. Increase assessment skills on effective accountability and conflict transformation strategies
  5. Increase familiarity of and ability to apply transitional justice and peacebuilding principles and strategies to emerging issues such as gender-based violence, violent extremism, and natural resource conflicts


Module 1 – Mapping Contexts of Mass Violations and Conflict Analysis (1 day)

Module one serves as an introduction to the field of transitional justice. It sets the structure and tone of the program. This module begins with group dynamics and exploring the expectation and experience of the participants. Participants will: 1) explore and assess the current trends of conflict in their contexts and in the Asia Pacific context, 2) develop a common understanding for discussing issues of peace and conflict through an overview of the field of conflict transformation, 3) develop a critical lens to assess theoretical frameworks, and 4) introduce tools for conflict analysis and mapping.

Key Topics:

  1. Developing conducive group dynamics (introduction, get to know each other, establish expectations)
  2. Understanding mass human rights violations in the Asian context and region
  3. Analysing violent conflict: Root causes, actors, and impact
  4. Conflict transformation and multi-track intervention
  5. From impunity to accountability

Module 2 – Transitional Justice Framework (2 days)

The second module focuses on understanding the elements of transitional justice as a central component of contemporary work in Asia to address mass violations and atrocities. The module illuminates the prospects, challenges, and complex dynamics of each transitional justice mechanism, while drawing upon case studies from the region.

Key Topics:

  1. Transitional justice elements: Truth, prosecution, reparation, and guarantees of non-recurrence (institutional reform)
  2. Right to truth: Official and non-official truth-seeking mechanisms, truth and reconciliation commissions
  3. Right to justice: International crimes, prosecution mechanisms (national, hybrid, international courts), the International Criminal Court
  4. Right to reparation: Scope and models of reparation
  5. Institutional reform: Types of institutional reform (judiciary, security sector, educational sector, media, etc.), vetting mechanisms, policy reform.  

Module 3 – Integrating  Theories and Practices (1.5 days)

This module takes a systems perspective on peacebuilding to expand its definition and our understanding of peace processes beyond the negotiation table to explore the diversity of ways peace processes (defined broadly) can be supported by a variety of actors at different levels. It also integrates theories and practices by utilising the wealth of knowledge, expertise, experiences, and networks of AJAR and partners.

Key Topics:

  1. Sustainability, prospects, and challenges of peace processes and agreements
  2. Cross-cutting themes and challenges: Gender and conflict, violent extremism, displacement, natural resource conflicts
  3. Linking practices to theories: Working with survivors, community-based research, psychosocial healing, documentation, national and international advocacy
  4. Becoming agents of transformation: Reflecting on our journeys towards peacebuilding and accountability


The course instructors and guest speakers represent different fields of expertise and country contexts, and years of experience as human rights practitioners. AJAR also invites scholars to address current issues of interest in the field of human rights, and to share their expertise and experience. A team of coordinators helps to ensure a smooth process for this intensive course.

Permanent Instructors:

  1. Galuh Wandita
  2. Patrick Burgess
  3. Atikah Nuraini
  4. Karen Campbell-Nelson
  5. Nicole Janisiewicz

Guest Speakers (to be confirmed):

  1. Howard Varney (South Africa)
  2. Indria Fernida (Indonesia)
  3. Rene Clemente (Philippines)
  4. Pornpen Kongkachongkhiet (Thailand)
  5. Sarala Emmanuel (Sri Lanka)
  6. Han Gyi (Myanmar)
  7. Atty. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary (Philippines)
  8. Hugo Fernandez (Timor-Leste)

Training Assistant:

  1. Clevyra Wang

Logistics Information

  • Date: 23–28 April 2019 (with a day off)
  • Location: Kampung Damai, Jalan Pantai Berawa, Gang Sri Kahyangan No. 1, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Bali
  • Fees: 800 USD (inclusive of accommodation, meals, training materials, and tuition)
  • Accommodation: Shared rooms at Kampung Damai (AJAR Learning Centre)
  • Transportation: Participants are expected to pay for and manage their own travel (to/from Denpasar, Bali) and visas. Kampung Damai will provide transport from the airport to the learning centre.

Inquiries and Registration

Registration will remain open until seats are filled. For inquiries and registration for this course, please contact AJAR’s Training Assistant, Clevyra Wang at

Download the course outline here.