Rule-of-law Tools for Post-conflict States


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This tool identifies core principles that should guide United Nations personnel when confronted with draft amnesties that may be inconsistent with international law and United Nations policy. The first chapter defines amnesties, describes their use and distinguishes them from other legal measures that bear some similarities to amnesties but which are not addressed in this tool. Chapter II summarizes the principal rules of international law and United Nations policy that should guide the consideration of amnesties. Both of these chapters include examples of amnesties from many countries to illustrate the rules of international law and United Nations policy that are applicable when assessing a proposed amnesty. Chapter III considers the relationship of amnesties to processes of transitional justice. Finally, chapter IV provides further guidance to practitioners who may encounter questions when seeking to apply the legal principles summarized in the tool to ambiguous situations in the field.

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OHCHR wishes to thank the individuals and organizations that provided comments, suggestions and support for the preparation of this tool. In particular, it would like to gratefully acknowledge the consultant who had primary responsibility for developing the tool, Diane Orentlicher. OHCHR would also like to acknowledge the institution that provided essential support to the consultant, American University’s Washington College of Law.

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