In my second month as the Executive Director of Justice Rapid Response, I feel both humbled and energized by this new responsibility and the work that lies ahead leading the organization in an evolving international justice context.
In the last twenty years, the international justice landscape has become more complex and diverse. Polarization of the international arena is challenging multilateralism, adhesion to human rights, and the ability of traditional justice institutions to function. As a result, innovative solutions have emerged, such as the new ad hoc mechanisms for Syria, Myanmar and Iraq, the hybrid tribunals in Senegal or the Central African Republic, and the growing use of universal jurisdiction by national courts to hold perpetrators to account. Two other factors driving innovation in international justice are the increasing role of civil society and digitalization, which has opened entirely new fields of investigation.
Against this backdrop, it has become clear that the future of justice for international crimes and grave human rights violations lies in a combination of efforts from public and private actors operating at all levels – international, national and local. Formal justice and accountability institutions must remain central but will not prevail alone. In today’s world, there is a need for interconnectedness, for more robust expertise and technological solutions, as well as for speed and multidisciplinary approaches. Because Justice Rapid Response can offer all this in a timely and reliable manner to a wide variety of justice actors, I have no doubt that it will have a central role to play in shaping the future of accountability for international crimes and grave human rights violations.
I feel strongly about three priorities I have outlined for Justice Rapid Response in the upcoming months. Firstly, victims of international crimes and grave human rights violation, and their call for justice must remain at the heart of what Justice Rapid Response does. We must dig deeper into what a victim-centred approach means for our work and, if necessary, further develop the organization accordingly in terms of activities and available expertise. I will constantly keep this in mind as Executive Director and ensure it is reflected in our work.
Secondly, I will make a conscious effort to combine our strengths to address situations – such as the crisis in Ukraine – working with multiple justice actors in a way that fosters communication and cooperation between them. Powered by an impeccable roster, our international justice, national justice and civil society programmes have already achieved significant results. And this impact has been most impressive when we have combined efforts to work on justice and accountability across programmes, from different angles and with several partners simultaneously. Our work in Myanmar, Colombia, The Gambia, Syria and Iraq exemplifies this.
Thirdly, I will strive to nurture existing partnerships and to develop new ones that will help advance Justice Rapid Response’s mission. Our strongest impact in recent years has been fueled by partnerships with entities such as UN Women, the International Institute for Criminal Investigation, as well as long-standing collaboration with recipients of expertise from our roster in Guatemala, Colombia, Iraq, Bolivia, The Gambia and beyond. Such partnerships have allowed us to accelerate deployments and influence entire areas in our sector – such as the investigation of sexual and gender-based violence – with a real impact for victims. My aims for collaboration will include further developing our capacity to provide additional support to Human Rights Council-mandated investigations, as well as finding solid partners to develop our digital investigative expertise.
However, none of these three priorities can be achieved without the involvement of the entire Justice Rapid Response team, its enthusiasm and energy. I want us to be ever prouder of our organization and what we can achieve together by ensuring a shared understanding of Justice Rapid Response’s vision and mission and a strong agreement on our core values.
This organization has come far since it was established in 2009 and its future shines with the promise of what it can still help to achieve. I look forward to working with our partners, donors, experts and staff towards making justice a reality for more victims and survivors.
Justice Rapid Response
In May 2022, Justice Rapid Response confirmed the appointment of Mr. Emonet as its new Executive Director. Mr. Emonet had been serving as the Director of Operations of Justice Rapid Response since 2016, prior to which he worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross for 15 years.