Human Rights and Transitional Justice

18 March-28 April 2015 (E08815) | Closed
Instructor: Ahmed Karaoud

Transitional justice is a widespread concept in the field of human rights work and advocacy today. It is part of the long term process of reconciliation in post-conflict and transition societies and it covers a range of activities and tools. Transitional justice aims at acknowledging past wrongdoings, severe human rights abuses or crimes against humanity and bringing its perpetrators to justice. Criminal prosecution, official investigation commissions, reparations and restitution programs as well as memorialisation efforts are part of these processes. The long term objective of reconciliation processes and transitional justice is to (re-)establish civic trust in state institutions, e.g. independent courts, police, parliaments and among the society as such. Thus it aims to establish stability and peace in war or conflict-torn societies after periods of severe injustice, violence or suppression.

Transitional justice and the process of reconciliation cover a range of formal and informal activities, institutions and mechanisms. To name a few: fact finding missions, truth and reconciliation commissions, history commissions, international tribunals or domestic courts, formal recognition and apologies, reparations and restoration, vetting of former civil or military servants, exhumation of victims, establishing memorials or reforming the security sector (police and military). The establishment of these mechanisms is part of international human rights and humanitarian aid policies and international law developed by the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union or the Organization of American States. Civil society actors, NGOs and development agencies are part of the whole process and help to establish commissions and share expertise.

This e-learning course will give a detailed introduction to the (increasing) number of political mechanisms, tools as well as legal instruments that promote and facilitate transitional justice and reconciliation processes. It will outline who the main actors and agents are in these fields, such as international organisations, NGOs or states. Participants will apply these mechanisms on case studies and develop their own tools and possibilities to contribute to these processes.

Course structure

The certificate course involves approximately 30 hours of reading, on-line working groups, interaction with students and instructor, webinars and quizzes, and is offered over a 6-week period. International legal and policy papers are part of the reading, thus the course will have a multi-disciplinary approach from international human rights law, international relations and history. The course is based on a participatory, active learning approach, with an emphasis on critical reflection and peer-to-peer learning. The maximum number of course participants is 25. Students who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate of completion. It is also possible to audit the course.

Course outline

Week 1. Concepts and evolution of transitional justice and reconciliation
Week 2. Legal and political basis for transitional justice and reconciliation
Week 3. Mechanism of long term reconciliation
Week 4. Institutions, actors and agencies
Week 5. Prosecution and combating impunity
Week 6. (Re-)establishing solid and peaceful societies

About the instructor: Ahmed Karaoud

Ahmed KaraoudAhmed Karaoud is a freelance human rights consultant & trainer from Tunisia. He served as the Head of Amnesty International’s Middle East-North Africa (MENA) Office in Beirut (Lebanon) from 1996-2002. Previously, he was the Director of Training at the Arab Institute for Human Rights (1996-2001). Mr. Karaoud was imprisoned for many years for his non-violent political activities during the reign of the authoritarian regime in Tunisia. With more than thirty years of experience in the region, Mr. Karaoud is a seasoned human rights defender and trainer. His areas of expertise include human rights advocacy, monitoring, and transitional justice. He has been an instructor and trainer for HREA since 2006, including for the Young Arab Human Rights Defenders Program and for e-learning courses on Citizens and Advocacy (Arabic and French) and Monitoring Children’s Rights (French).

Who should apply

The course is aimed at practitioners and professionals who want to gain knowledge in the field of transitional justice, university students of international law, international relations, politics and other areas and NGO staff members. Participants should have a good written command of English and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use. HREA aims to ensure equal gender and geographical distribution across the selected participants.


Tuition fee for participants: US$ 575; tuition for auditors: US$ 215. Payments can be made online with major credit cards (Discover, MasterCard, Visa), PayPal, bank transfer (additional fee applies) and money transfer (Western Union, MoneyGram). Bulk rates are available. Payments are due upon registration.

How to register

Registration is closed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about HREA’s e-learning courses.