Over the past two decades the international community has played an increasingly important role in supporting countries emerging from conflict. Since the end of the cold war conflicts have rarely occurred between sovereign states, but rather between groups within states, or between a state and one or more armed groups challenging state authority. Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, Cambodia, Haiti, Liberia, Sierra Leone and DRC are just some examples from different parts of the world.
Some common characteristics in these armed conflicts have been gross and systematic violations of human rights and at the same time a more or less total collapse of state institutions – including the justice sector. Afghanistan and Iraq are other examples of countries where the state structures have failed and need to be reformed, or have been destroyed as a result of the armed conflict.
After hostilities and peace agreements these countries need to rebuild their infrastructure as well as their state institutions. One of the most important tasks is to rebuild the justice system.
In order for civil and commercial life to become sustainable following an armed conflict, it is necessary for the rule of law to prevail, underpinned by a working justice system that has the respect and confidence of all parts of the community. It is also necessary to find ways as soon as possible to address violations of human rights that have occurred during the armed conflict within a functioning, independent and impartial justice system.
The ILAC concept originated in the late 90s, when individuals representing NGOs, national governments, international organisations and academia, met to recommend ways to improve the international community’s approach to post-conflict justice and to judicial rehabilitation during a post-conflict period.