INTERVICT Reparations Initiative

IRI – How to Repair the Irreparable

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Introduction Project Right to Reparation Aims

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The international prescribed right to reparations aims to contribute to take away as far as possible the consequences of harm suffered by victims of international crimes and serious human rights violations. The underlying assumption is that this should provide reparative justice, for victims and societies that struggle after war, internal conflict and/or political violence. International criminal justice institutions (ICJ) and international human rights procedures (IHRP) were set up to process the right to reparation.

These international legal institutions that process this right and the underlying rules are fragmented and the underlying assumptions lack an evidence base. To what extent can international law indeed repair harm of victims of war and conflict? This project aims to develop a multidisciplinary theory of reparative justice integrating legal scholarship and social science and applying innovative methodological instruments.

The research is ground-breaking in that the conceptual framework – the full range of theoretical perspectives on justice (access to justice, therapeutic jurisprudence, procedural justice and justice restoration); the acknowledgement of their context-dependency (incl. culture, group differences and the idiosyncrasies of the conflict in question) and the view of justice as an ongoing narrative – inform the methodological choices and the materials used in the empirical studies, while generalization and comparison proceed through these theoretical lenses. The use of ‘narrative victimology’ is a cutting edge methodology to the study of (justice experiences of) victims of crime. The project has a high potential to make a contribution to scholarship in victimology, trauma studies, transitional justice and law through its interdisciplinary set up.

The project consists of three research strands

  1. The first part (RS 1) concerns a comprehensive legal analysis of the procedures, laws and jurisprudence relating to the right to reparation under the selected four international legal institutions.
  2. The second part (RS 2) contains four empirical case studies in which beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries in concrete judicial cases of the four institutions will be interviewed (N=60, in total N=240); one before each of the four institutions: ICC (case relating to Congo), ECCC (Cambodia), European Court of Human Rights (case relating to Cyprus) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (case relating to Guatemala). These cases were selected on the basis of the following criteria: the sort of reparation provided (individual and/or collective); the in- or exclusion of beneficiaries; the nature and seriousness of victimization.
  3. The third part (RS 3) will provide the synthesis of the results of the legal analysis and the empirical studies.


The project will ensure that all results are disseminated among 3 overlapping constituencies:

  1. the international scholarly community in social sciences and law interested in transitional justice generally, and reparative justice in particular; 
  2. policy makers and advisers from governments and international organizations; and
  3. stakeholders in nongovernmental organizations.


The project will produce a combination of academic and practitioner-oriented outputs, or deliverables. Although all publications will be multidisciplinary in nature, they will at times target different disciplinary audiences and reach them in their respective publication venues.. For an overview of the projects output see Outreach