Supporting the Democratic Transition in Tunisia through Transitional Justice

After the revolution that ousted former President Ben Ali was won, Tunisians clamoured for justice and redress for past wrongs, addressing their demands to the Constituent Assembly, the new Government and relevant institutions. Victims called for accountability and reparations and their voices grew stronger day by day. The first interim Government responded by establishing the National Fact-finding Commissions to Investigate Abuses and on Embezzlement and Corruption, which reinforced their demands by shedding some light on the most recent past. The Commission on Abuses was one of the first transitional justice institutions in the country and contributed substantially to unveil the truth of what happened in Tunisia during the revolution.
The Human Rights and Transitional Justice Ministry launched a national dialogue on transitional justice, ensuring the participation of civil society in a Commission for the National Dialogue on Transitional Justice that was responsible for facilitating consultations throughout the country and for preparing draft transitional justice legislation for the Constituent Assembly. The first sentences have been handed down by the military tribunals and the need for the establishment of a commission to uncover the truth of what happened under previous authoritarian regimes has been recognised in the draft transitional justice legislation that was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 14 December 2013.
NPWJ and KADEM’s work in Tunisia
NPWJ and Al-Kawakibi Democracy Transition Center (KADEM) have been working in the aftermath of the revolution since July 2011 to support the Tunisian transition to democracy through transitional justice (TJ). Project activities, which have been concluded on 31 December 2013, have taken place throughout the country and include the development of project materials; 17 training seminars; the provision of technical assistance and mentoring to Tunisian institutions and other actors; five consultations with the general public; three consultations with victims of human rights violations and corruption; and advocacy with national and international actors. The Project began with a baseline mapping of the situation in Tunisia, the engagement of key stakeholders and the launch of the Transitional Justice Academy (the “Academy”).
The Academy is a joint initiative that will continue also after completion of the Project to provide a conceptual space within which main stakeholders and actors in Tunisia and the MENA region can build their capacity on transitional justice through training and other activities. The Academy represents a stable framework where all training courses envisaged in the Project have been organised and activities on transitional justice will continue to be conducted, ensuring sustainability of the positive impact of the Project. Through the Academy and other Project activities, NPWJ and KADEM contributed to strengthening the capacity of a group of Tunisian experts with previous experience on transitional justice (the “Tunisian Group on Transitional Justice” or “TGTJ”). The TGTJ is composed of key exponents of relevant stakeholders and its members have been involved throughout the Project and are continuing to spread a transitional justice culture throughout Tunisia after the Project has ended.
Under the Academy, NPWJ and KADEM also provided technical assistance to key national institutions working on transitional justice. In particular, the Academy, together with KADEM, was appointed to the Commission for the National Dialogue. In this capacity, the Academy supported the national dialogue on transitional justice initiated by the HRTJ Ministry and assisted in preparing the Draft Legislation on transitional justice that was submitted to the HRTJ Ministry and finally passed by the Constituent Assembly on 14 December 2013. The Academy also provided technical support to the National Fact-Finding Commission on Abuses in the final stages of the preparation of their report and the development of its communication strategy. 
Overall, the Project Partners contributed to Tunisia’s ongoing democratic transition by strengthening the capacity of civil society, including victims and the media, and State representatives to work together on transitional justice. Through Project activities, NPWJ and KADEM increased the level of substantive knowledge of relevant stakeholders on transitional justice issues, helping them to contribute effectively to building a democratic political system through accountability and redress for victims of human rights abuses. Project Partners supported civil society engagement with policy- and decision-makers, contributing to building a relationship of mutual trust between these two groups. This was crucial to ensure that civil society can play an active role in exerting pressure on State institutions to build a system where citizens can play a role in decisions affecting their lives, hold their government accountable and enjoy the full protection of their human rights.
While more work remains to be done, also to promote civil society and their active engagement, the picture at the end of the Project is very different from the picture at its commencement. There are political and security challenges, but there is also positive movement on transitional justice and a determined desire on the part of civil society to ensure accountability as a critical component of the reconstruction of Tunisia on the basis of the rule of law and human rights.

  • Download the Final Report of the Project (pdf format)

List of activities:

List of Press releases:


  • Download the Project Summary
  • See also the presentation of the Transitional Justice Academy, a joint initiative launched by its founding partners Al-Kawakibi Democracy Transition Center (KADEM) and the Arab Democracy Foundation (ADF), in partnership with No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)


For further information, please contact Alison Smith on or +32-(0)2-548-3912 or Greta Barbone on or +39 06 68979262.