Justice redefined: Towards an integrated approach of victim participation in institutional reforms in the DR of Congo

Victim participation has increasingly been foregrounded in TJ interventions in the past decade. In the same period, (elements of) the TJ discourse and toolkit, have increasingly been implemented in contexts that cannot be understood as post-conflict or post-authoritarian, like the DR Congo. Also in these cases the international community, and sometimes local actors, have been turning to, and experimenting with, mechanisms developed in the context of TJ to try and foster accountability for (past and ongoing) human rights violations, facilitate institutional reform and seek reparation for injustices.

In such a context, the matter of victim participation raises a whole new and specific set of questions. To date, it is unclear how victim participation can be turned to in order to consolidate, facilitiate or upscale these attempts at accountability and transition.

Through an in-country comparison of institutional reform initiatives in the DR Congo, and using a mixed method of data collection and analysis, this project examines the relevance of victim participation in promoting guarantees of non-repetition of human rights abuses and explores specifically how victims have participated in various kinds of bottom-up and top-down institutional reforms. The case study seeks to both examine the relevance of the TJ toolkit in these cases of ongoing conflict, and to contribute to the development of sustainable TJ mechanisms centered on victim rights.