Sujit Choudhry, Director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions, attended the Expert Group Meeting on Transitional Justice and Atrocity Prevention that took place on November 13-14, 2017 in Geneva. This was one of two meetings that was convened by Pablo de Greiff, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence and Adama Dieng, the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide. The other meeting took place in New York on September 19-20, 2017. The focus of the meetings was an analysis of linkages between transitional justice and the prevention of atrocities.
The rationale behind the Expert Group Meetings is the UN States’ assumed responsibility to provide populations protection from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity (“atrocity crimes”) that was developed over the last two decades. As such, the States have the right to prevent and incite those crimes as well as their recurrence. As a means to address the legacy of those crimes, the UN States have established thorough transitional justice strategies, including mechanisms to prosecute crimes committed. These include international, national or mixed tribunals, truth commissions or other fact-finding mechanisms or commissions of inquiry, reparation programs as well as institutional reforms.
Given the aforementioned background, the Human Rights Council resolution 33/19 of October 5th, 2016 has commissioned the Special Rapporteur and the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide “to prepare a joint study on the contribution of transitional justice to the prevention of gross violations and abuses of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law, including genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and their recurrence, to be presented to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-seventh session.” As part of the preparation of the aforementioned study, the organizers of the meeting were also requested “to seek the views of States, relevant United Nations mandate holders, relevant United Nations agencies, funds and programs, and in particular the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, intergovernmental organizations, national human rights institutions, nongovernmental organizations and other relevant stakeholders, including practitioners.”
The primary objective of the Expert Group Meetings was to obtain the opinions of several experts in the field regarding how transitional justice can contribute to preventing atrocity crimes as well as to inform the preparation of the joint study to be presented to the Human Rights Council at its 37th session. Each of the two meetings will focus on two different topics. The New York meeting, in September 2017, focused on the analysis of the effect of an adoption of a bill of rights, a constitution, or the establishment of a constitutional court on the prevention of atrocity crimes. It will also investigate the role of history education in the prevention of atrocity crimes. The meeting in Geneva, in October 2017, focused on how the security sector reform contributes to atrocity prevention – in particular, the role of civilian mechanisms established to oversee the reform of security institutions.
Choudhry is the founding Director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions that assembles and leads international networks of experts to conduct thematic research projects that offer evidence-based policy options to practitioners. To date, the Center for Constitutional Transitions has worked with over 50 experts from more than 25 countries. It partners with a global network of multilateral organizations, think tanks, and NGOs.
- Michael Heyman Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, he is an internationally recognized as an authority on comparative constitutional law and politics, he has spoken in over two dozen countries. He is also advisor to constitution building process in a number of countries including Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Ukraine and Yemen. Choudhry has also been a constitutional advisor for over two decades, and his expertise encompasses facilitating public dialogue sessions with civil society groups and other stakeholders, leading stakeholder consultations, performing detailed advisory work with technical experts, training civil servants and bureaucrats, engaging party leaders and parliamentarians, and drafting technical reports and memoranda in the field. He is currently also a member of the United Nations Mediation Roster and consultant to the World Bank Institute at the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program.
Choudhry was born in Delhi and raised in Toronto. He holds a premed degree at McGill University. Following a bioethics internship, he became interested in law. He holds law degrees from Oxford, Toronto, and Harvard; was a Rhodes Scholar; and served as law clerk to Chief Justice Antonio Lamer of the Supreme Court of Canada. The focus of Choudhry’s research spans across a wide variety of comparative constitutional law and politics issues.
His publication record includes over ninety articles, book chapters, working papers and reports. He is author of several books, including The Migration of Constitutional Ideas, Constitutional Design for Divided Societies: Integration or Accommodation?, The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution and Constitution Making. Choudhry is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Society of Public Law, the International Advisory Council of the Institute for Integrated Transitions, the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Journal of Constitutional Law, the Editorial Board of the Constitutional Court Review, the Editorial Advisory Board for the Cambridge Studies in Constitutional Law, and is an Honorary Member of the Advisory Council of the Indian Constitutional Law Review. More information on Sujit Choudhry can be found on his personal website sujitchoudhry.com as well as on LinkedIn, Twitter (@sujit_choudhry), Instagram (@sujitchoudhry) and on Facebook.
The Center for Constitutional Transitions assembles and leads international networks of experts to conduct thematic research projects that offer evidence-based policy options to practitioners. This is part of the Center’s effort to create and mobilize knowledge in support of constitution building. It has several global collaborations and partnerships with multilateral organizations, think tanks, NGOs and universities. Through the Center’s partnership with with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Choudhry co-leads three global collaborative research projects. These include Dealing with Territorial Cleavages in Constitutional Transitions, Security Sector Reform and Constitutional Transitions in Emerging Democracies, and Security Sector Oversight: Protecting Democratic Consolidation from Authoritarian Backsliding and Partisan Abuse.
More information regarding the Center can be found on constitutionaltransitions.com.
Information for Sujit Choudhry is on Sujitchoudhry.com.