By Published On: 30th March 2021
  1. Background and Context:

The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) is a Pan-African organization, based in Cape Town, South Africa, which works with governments, inter-governmental and civil society actors to build fair, inclusive and democratic societies. The Pan-African Reconciliation Network (PAREN), was established by the IJR’s Peacebuilding Interventions Programme, to convene and sustain a continental and global platform for practitioners, policy makers, and analysts working on transitional justice and peacebuilding, to provide technical support to governments and societies through the facilitation of dialogue interventions, policy analysis and the strengthening of national capacities to drive in-country processes. The African Union Transitional Justice Policy (AUTJP), adopted in February 2019, emphasises the important role played by non-state actors and civil society organisations as key partners with government and inter-governmental actors, in the promotion of transitional justice, national and regional reconciliation. The objective of the PAREN Fellowship Programme will be to raise awareness and sensitize African stakeholders to engage and utilize the provisions of the African Union Transitional Justice Policy to develop and guide their own national reconcilaition processes. The PAREN Fellowship Programme will take place from Monday 16th August to Friday 3rd September 2021. The Fellowship will convene a series of weekly virtual online platforms in August and conclude with a two-day capacity building workshop on 2nd and 3rd September 2021, in Cape Town, South Africa, if Covid-19 protocols permit for a face-to-face meeting. Eligible candidates are invited to send in their applications by 30th April 2021.

  1. Rationale for the Fellowship:

The adoption of the AUTJP created a home-grown African approach to addressing the violations of the past and promoting redress with accountability for these injustices. There is a need across the African continent, to create platforms for the exchange of insights as well as to enhance awareness and the understanding of transitional justice and reconciliation processes. In particular, it is necessary to encourage interaction among mid-level and senior-level decision-makers, government officials, diplomats, CSO practitioners, analysts, academics, and inter-governmental actors, working on issues that relate to peacebuilding, transitional justice and national reconciliation across the African continent. The PAREN Fellowship Programme provides opportunities for participants, from countries affected by violent conflict or political tension, to engage in an intensive professional knowledge-sharing and exchange of views on strategies to implement the provisions of the African Union Transitional Justice Policy.

Transitional justice remains a misunderstood term. Furthermore, there is a lack of clarity with regards to the link between transitional justice, peacebuilding and security, specifically relating to the connection between bringing together former enemies in a process of sustained dialogue, ensuring redress for past wrongs, as a pathway towards developing a common vision to shape a new inclusive future. Despite the formal adoption of the AUTJP, the policy has not been fully engaged with and it is currently not being sufficiently utilised by African Union Member States and civic actors to guide their own internal transitional justice and peacebuilding processes.

It is evident that across Africa there is an urgent need to enhance the capacity of national institutions, where they exist, to promote transitional justice, peace and security. A number of African countries have adopted and implemented transitional justice processes and designed institutions to guide their national processes, such as in the Burundi, Central African Republic (CAR), Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe, but continue to face challenges. Some countries are still deeply affected by crisis and have attempted but not succeeded in establishing the necessary transitional justice frameworks at the national level to guide their in-country processes, such as the Democratic Repubulic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe.

In some instances, African countries need to establish new institutions to promote and sustain national reconciliation, such as in Cameroon, Lesotho, Libya, Mozambique, Sudan. However, in addition to national mechanisms and institutions for promoting reconciliation, regional bodies remain an important tool in the realisation of ‘regional reconciliation’.[1] This is especially true on the African continent where the changing nature of conflicts has led to them having a transnational nature and spilling across national borders as seen in the cases of Al Shabaab, Ansar Dine and Boko Haram. The PAREN Fellowship Programme will contribute towards an improved understanding of the regional dimensions of African conflicts, and how they fuel a complex web of trans-border issues and violations including the movement of combatants, weapons, refugees, and illegally acquired natural resources across borders.

  1. Objectives of the PAREN Fellowship Programme:

The PAREN Programme will facilitate interactive and ongoing dialogue amongst the Fellows and resource persons and IJR staff, by providing a platform on which to share experiences, learn from one another’s challenges and lessons as well as discuss practical policy implementation issues and insights from communal interventions. This will enable the PAREN Fellows to gain academic, practical and policy relevant insights and skills to make a meaningful contribution to transitional justice and reconciliation processes in their respective countries.

The objectives of the PAREN Fellowship Programme are to:

  • Create a platform for participants to engage with fellow professionals and openly exchange views, experiences and challenges of designing, implementing and sustaining transitional justice and reconciliation initiatives in their countries;
  • Exchange views with experienced practitioners and academics from across Africa, and interact face-to-face with resource persons based in South Africa, if Covid-19 protocols permit international travel;
  • Encourage Fellows to undertaking their own self-directed research and analysis of issues that they are interested in relating to transitional justice and reconciliation, based on discussions and guided by IJR’s resource persons;
  • Enable Fellows to develop and write short articles on an issue that they are interested in relating to transitional justice and reconciliation in Africa;
  • Establish a Pan-African network of knowledgeable practitioners and analysts to provide strategic and practical advice to African societies and governments on how to design, implement and sustain their own in-country transitional justice processes.

On completion of the Fellowship, participants will have the option to join the Pan-African Reconciliation Network (, which works to proactively support the efforts of governments, inter-governmental and civil society actors to design, implement and sustain effective transitional justice and reconciliation processes in countries across Africa.

Eligibility: Applicants should have more than 5-years work experience, and be currently working in an NGO, government department, or inter-governmental organization on issues relating to transitional justice, peacebuilding and reconciliation in Africa.

  1. Programme Approach:

The PAREN Fellowship Programme will host six Fellows over a three-week period. For the 2021 Programme, fellows will engage virtually over a two-week period while based in their countries. Specifically, the Programme will convene one day per week, to introduce the concepts of transitional justice, peacebuilding and reconciliation. In the third week, Fellows travel to Cape Town for an intensive two-day capacity development workshop, if the South African Covid-19 protocols permit international travel. In Cape Town, Fellows will participate in:

  • Dialogues led by resource persons to openly and critically assess key issues relating to transitional justice and reconciliation on the African continent;
  • Public Events such as Public Seminars, debates and conferences organized by other civil society institutions relating to transitional justice;
  • Exposure Visits to memorials, which is an element of transitional justice, including visits to sites of historical significance relating to South Africa’s struggle against apartheid;
  • Self-directed research and writing to engage and utilize the concepts and ideas discussed to analyse a specific issue relating to transitional justice that is of interest to the Fellow.
  1. Expected Outputs from Fellows:
  • Participation at in-house seminar and a brief presentation on the key issues facing the transitional justice context in your country;
  • Research, analysis and drafting of a short article on a topic and issue of choice relating to transitional justice in Africa.
  1. Expected Programme Outcomes:

It is expected that the Programme will achieve the following outcomes:

  • Increase in knowledge sharing and an improved understanding of transitional justice, peacebuilding and reconciliation, including the provisions of the AUTJP, among professional African practitioners and analysts;
  • Strengthen the capacity of Africans, including civil society, governmental and inter-governmental actors to effectively utilize the provisions of the AUTJP to develop and implement national action plans to promote peacebuilding, transitional justice and reconciliation.
  1. Adherence Covid-19 Protocols:

Africa has been affected by the global coronavirus pandemic, which has affected the way the Institute would normally undertake its face-to-face work. Consequently, the Fellowship Programme will be convened virtually, however, if the South African Covid-19 protocols permit, the Institute will convene a face-to-face workshop during the third week of the Fellowship Programme. The Institute for Justice will strictly adhere to the Covid-19 protocols, consequently in the event that international travel is not permitted, the two-day workshop planned for the third week will be convened virtually through an online platform. IJR will advise prospective Fellows about Covid-19 pre-travel procedures and post-travel procedures based on South African government guidelines. Pre- and Post Covid-19 procedures in country, will be the responsibility of the selected participants.

  1. Application Procedure:

The PAREN Fellowship Programme will be convened from Monday 16th August to Friday 3rd September 2021. To apply send a:

  • Motivational Letter explaining how this Programme will benefit you;
  • CV;
  • Any short articles that you have written relating to transitional justice;

to Ms. Anthea Flink, IJR PAREN Project Leader, Tel: +27 21 202 4071.

  1. About the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation:

The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, established in 2000, is a Pan-African organisation works collaboratively with governments, inter-governmental and civil society actors to contribute towards building fair, democratic and inclusive societies across the continent, through transitional justice and peacebuilding interventions. The IJR’s work is informed by the insights gained from working with grassroots communities in countries such as Burundi, Central African Republic, Eastern DRC, South Sudan, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Historically, IJR has worked on interventions in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Rwanda. The IJR is a trusted advisor to key decision makers and inter-governmental actors on transitional justice and peacebuilding initiatives, and engages with the African Union (AU), SADC, EAC, ICGLR and the United Nations system. IJR has partnered with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) on a number of in-country interventions in Africa. IJR has positioned itself as a provider of choice of reliable qualitative data on public perception in the areas of peace and security. The pioneering South African Reconciliation Barometer, enables the IJR to be one of the leading African think tanks that provides public opinion data on transitional justice issues. We welcome collaboration with like-minded partners and invite you to find out more about our work on our website.

[1] Tim Murithi and Lindsay McClain Opiyo, ‘Regional Reconciliation in Africa: Policy Recommendations for Cross-Border Transitional Justice’, Policy Brief No.14, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, 14 April 2014, pp.1-16, available:

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