Acknowledging past abuses vital to successful national reconciliation Annan says

In a message delivered yesterday by Assistant-Secretary-General Danilo Turk to the IPU’s 110th annual assembly in Mexico City, Mr. Annan said parliamentarians can play a vital role in national recovery efforts in post-conflict countries by establishing bodies that promote justice, dialogue and reconciliation. “Only a fair and judicious process of airing difficult facts and feelings can provide a foundation for improved relations following a conflict, political upheaval, or other national trauma. Only a genuine acceptance of what has taken place can bring solace to the victims and healing to all of society,” Mr. Annan said at the opening of the meeting, scheduled to run through Friday. He noted that the UN and the IPU have worked on joint technical assistance projects for parliaments in many countries, including Albania, Timor-Leste and Uruguay. In each of the situations where the UN is involved, “from Afghanistan to West Africa, from Tajikistan to Timor-Leste, from Guatemala to Guinea-Bissau,” the national histories, the wounds and the way forward have been unique, but “they are linked by the need to address the painful legacy of past abuses,” he said. For this reason, the UN opposes impunity in cases of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international human rights, he said. Criminal justice, as an instrument of truth, must be combined with efforts to acknowledge the suffering of victims and to arrive at a common national understanding of the root causes of community hatred, he said. “You can set an example, in your own deliberations, of dialogue among communities divided by hatred. Through your legislative power, you can give domestic meaning to international standards and agreements,” Mr. Annan said to the lawmakers.

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