WESTERN BALKANS – Since 2011, every 24 March marks the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. This observance was established by the United Nations General Assembly to honor the memory of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations, as well as to promote the importance of the right to truth and justice in peacebuilding.
Furthermore, this day pays tribute to those who have devoted their lives to, and lost their lives in, the struggle to promote and protect human rights for all.
As stated by the UN, the right to the truth is often invoked in the context of gross violations of human rights and grave breaches of humanitarian law. The relatives of victims of summary executions, enforced disappearance, missing persons, abducted children, torture, require to know what happened to them. This day implies knowing the complete truth to the events that transpired, their specific circumstances, who participated in them, as well as the reasons for them.
RYCO uses this occasion to draw attention to the fact that there is no better future for the Western Balkans without establishing the facts that should serve the truth. Reconciliation processes always mean a comprehensive and constructive approach to dealing with the past. By knowing what happened we can overcome divisive narratives, address the causes of conflicts and prevent their recurrence.
We also use this opportunity to remind the Western Balkan governments and societies that reconciliation and the development of friendly neighborly relations are a prerequisite for the social, economic, and cultural renewal of the Western Balkans and its European integration.
Truth, justice and reconciliation are not only a matter of democratic governance and state policy. They are, above all, the responsibility of each citizen of the Western Balkan, which strives to live in a region that is safe, democratic, peaceful and respectful of human rights.