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‘Transitional justice’ has become an essential part of peacebuilding. As a tool for dealing with a violent past, it has taken centre stage. While there are multiple definitions, they often centre around the judicial and non-judicial approaches for dealing with the legacies of massive and systematic human rights violations, be that in the context of repressive regimes, or armed conflicts. More broadly, justice has a comprehensive role to play in all aspects of peacemaking, and not only as regards post-conflict peacebuilding and dealing with the past. Justice infuses all dimensions of a peace process.
Election violence has received much attention over recent years. It is seen universally as a vital problem to address within the democratisation process, but its complexities and sensitivities have as yet not been fully addressed: still the international community is faced with the challenge of identifying feasible and timely responses in the face of election-related tensions and violence. This is true for the EU, one of the largest donors and supporters worldwide of electoral assistance and observation in third countries.
The recent announcement of the Libyan National Transitional Council’s 24-minister cabinet reveals a complex power-balance in the interim government between the country’s regions; those who fought during the anti-Gaddafi insurgency; as well as financial interests.
Power-sharing arrangements play a dominant role in most peace efforts around the globe today: from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, the majority of efforts to resolve violent conflict have included a measure of power-sharing, to different degrees. Arguably, it is a ‘preferred conflict resolution tool’ of the international community supporting peace processes.
EU foreign policy chiefs were unusually quick off the mark to comment on the fall of Sirte and reported death of Colonel Gaddafi today. Presidents Van Rompuy and Barrosso called on the National Transitional Council (NTC) to ‘pursue a broad-based reconciliation process which reaches out to all Libyans and enables a democratic, peaceful and transparent transition in the country.’ High Representative Ashton said ‘It is important that [Libya's] leadership unite to build a democratic future for the country in full respect of human rights. While the crimes of the past must be addressed, the leadership must also seek a path of national reconciliation… The EU will remain a strong and committed partner in the future’.
One of the pillars of the European Union’s external policy is the promotion of democracy. The EU conditions its assistance to the quality of democratic practice, the emblem of which is electoral behaviour and the institutions that support free and fair elections. Democratisation efforts are seen as part and parcel of the EU’s efforts to support development, peace and security around the world. Indeed according to EC sources, between 2003 and 2010, the EU spent 700 Million Euros on electoral assistance activities. During the same period, the tragic consequences of electoral abuse, when elections are manipulated, falsified or further exacerbate existing tensions, have been highlighted repeatedly by events in the Arab world, in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood, and across Africa.
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