‘Transitional justice for rest of the world, but not for own colonial past’: India slams Western approach an UNSC

Taking aim at a “one-size-fits-all” approach to settling conflicts on the world stage, India’s deputy UN envoy said Western nations have imposed a form of “justice” on the world that ignores their own colonial legacies.

Historical injustices committed by colonial regimes are “rarely the focus of transitional justice,” Indian Deputy Permanent Representative Nagaraj Naidu told the UN Security Council on Thursday. He was referring to a model of conflict resolution focused on accountability for past crimes and abuses “following military dictatorships, apartheid, and post-Cold War theaters.”

“Steeped in Western liberalism,” transitional justice has “entailed increased levels of coercion” by external actors into countries’ affairs, degrading national sovereignty the world over, Naidu said, calling it a “technocratic, one-size-fits-all approach.”

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Solutions to violent conflicts “must be not only home-grown but also home-nurtured” and prioritize victims of abuse, the envoy said, adding that the particular form this takes is less important – whether domestic or international trial, truth commission or a local cultural alternative to traditional Western legal proceedings.

Instead, transitional justice should be based on “redefining relationships” and “making institutions both trustworthy and effectively trusted” from within, he said.

The Security Council’s discussion of transitional justice was convened by Belgium, which currently presides over the council chamber, a role that rotates from month to month. Ironically, in the past, critics pointed out that Belgium failed to pursue transitional justice when it comes to its own dark colonial past – namely in the Congo, where the monarchy was accused of committing mass atrocities against millions of natives in the 1880s.

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