The number of victims of serious international crimes across the globe is staggering. Measuring by individuals that have been forcibly displaced as a result of conflict or persecution alone, there are potentially 70.8 million victims of one or more crimes worldwide. Despite the magnitude of this problem, perpetrators are rarely held accountable and redress is frequently out of reach for victims.
Contexts where serious international crimes have been perpetrated frequently give rise to grassroots movements of individuals who want to speak up about the violations they have experienced and demand justice. These people and groups operate in environments under extreme pressure with limited access to financial and technical resources.
While there has been a rhetorical change in the need for ‘survivor-led’ justice and victim participation, the rhetoric is meaningless unless victims are properly equipped to lead. Victims of serious international crimes face many difficulties when it comes to engaging accountability mechanisms themselves:
- Victims usually have little to no access to accountability in their home country as these are often controlled by the perpetrators.
- Accountability opportunities that exist outside domestic jurisdictions including international courts, universal jurisdiction prosecutions and civil actions requires specialised legal advice that can span across multiple jurisdictions.
- Accountability spaces are presently not spaces victims have any control over.
- These spaces are located in the global north; are governed by complex legal procedures and operate in unfamiliar languages.