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27 March, 2012

Conference on Transitional Justice and Political Apologies: Confronting the past to create a better future

Commemorative poster for Australia's national ''Sorry Day'' (Batchelor Institute)
Commemorative poster for Australia's national ''Sorry Day'' (Batchelor Institute)

On March 28 the Hebrew University of Jerusalem will host a discussion on ''Transitional Justice and Political Apologies'' to explore how the judicial and social approaches that societies use to deal with past injustices ensures their citizens a future of peace, honoring human rights and upholding the law. The various speakers at the symposium, hosted by the Minerva Center for Human Rights in the Faculty of Law, will address the issue from global and local points of view, with a focus on the practice of political apologies based on the public acknowledgement of past injustices and acceptance of responsibility for them.

The symposium will take place on Wednesday, March 28 at 5 p.m., at the Maiersdorf Faculty Club, Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University. Details are available at 02-5881541.

''Approaches of transitional justice include, for instance, truth and reconciliation commissions, mechanisms of compensation, measures of commemoration, acknowledgement and apology,'' explains attorney Sigall Horovitz, transitional justice project manager at the Minerva Center, who organized the symposium. ''Take for example the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa that was established by Nelson Mandela after the downfall of apartheid. The commission heard testimony from about 22,000 people, among them victims and attackers, for crimes that took place during the apartheid period. This allowed the divided society to overcome its difficult past and build a future of peace and democracy together.''

Among the speakers, Dr. Nava Lowenheim from the Department of International Relations and Dr. Zohar Kampf from the Department of Communication and Journalism, who will talk about apology ceremonies in the global community; attorney Hassan Jabareen, the CEO of Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, will examine the politics that tripped up the implementation of the Orr Commission findings on the disturbances of October 2000 between the security forces and Israeli citizens; and Prof. Avraham Sela from the Department of International Relations will attempt to answer whether the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is ready for a settlement or a political apology.

Ms. Horovitz concludes by saying that ''the symposium is meant for anyone who is socially active or interested in social issues. This is an opportunity to talk about the social issues that concern us and expand our knowledge about different conflicts and how societies deal with them. The combination of topics will help show the suitable norms and will demonstrate how they integrate with existing realities.''

The Minerva Center for Human Rights advances the academic research of human rights, aspires to develop a new generation of researchers in this field, and promotes the understanding of the importance of human rights in our society among designated groups. The Center was established in 1993 as a joint center of the Hebrew University and Tel-Aviv University. The Hebrew University branch is a continuance of the ''Human Rights Center'' founded in 1993 by the Faculty of Law and the Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace, and was the first academic center of this kind in Israel.

 

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