WESTERN BALKANS – Today marks the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2010, the international day honors the memory of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations and promotes the importance of the right to truth and justice. It also 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 the United Nations outlines, 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 knowing what happened to them. The right to the truth implies knowing the full and complete truth as to the events that transpired, their specific circumstances, and who participated in them, including knowing the circumstances in which the violations took place, as well as the reasons for them.
On this day, RYCO takes the opportunity to remind the Western Balkan governments and societies that reconciliation and the development of productive neighborly relations are a pre-requisite for the social, economic, and cultural renewal of the Western Balkans and for its European integration. Moreover, little action is being taken to move from theory to practice. Reconciliation cannot be achieved in a void or as cosmetic political measures. Reconciliation results from a comprehensive and constructive approach to dealing with the past.
We also want to remind on the Joinet-Orentlicher ‘Dealing with the Past’ principles outlined in our Strategic Plan. Implementation of these principles is fundamental for successful reconciliation process in the region. The right to know the truth is among the most essential ones.