Historical trauma is something all countries must deal with. Every nation comes with their own baggage which they must face for it to properly heal. During the past centuries, Europe has been the battleground for many wars. The European Greens agree that facing the past will lead to a better healing process and a better understanding of a nation’s identity.

The European Green Party has created the Green Screen project. Its mission is to get citizens involved in contemporary issues by acknowledging and understanding political violence from the past. They begin by focusing on Latvia. Taking into consideration their political and humanitarian struggles of the past, they try to understand the country’s difficulties to gain independence and identity.

How to Deal with Historical Trauma

The United Nations (UN), who has often been one of the primary international actors fighting against human rights violations, believes that transitional justice is crucial for peace and security in nations where violence and conflict have been at centerstage. The UN defines transitional justice as:

“an approach to systematic or massive violations of human rights that both provides redress to victims and creates or enhances opportunities for the transformation of the political systems, conflicts, and other conditions that may have been at the root of the abuses.”

United Nations

The UN specifies that transitional justice is not very different than any other form of justice. The main distinction is that it is adapted to the conditions of nation going through a transformation change away from a government who used human rights violations to control the nation. It focuses on the victims, and the promotion of “peace, democracy, and reconciliation”.

Mar Garcia, Secretary-General of the European Greens, contends that transitional justice does not only bring peace to the victims, but ithelps us understand who we are”. He continues to explain that although contemporary Europe is relatively peaceful, it has a history of totalitarianism that has unfortunately been embedded in European roots. For the continent to continue to grow, it must face its history and understand how it has been shaped by Europe from the past.

Why Focus on Transitional Justice?

The reason European Greens began this project is because of the present-day conflicts that are caused by lack of transitional justice. In the project, it is mentioned that Latvia only gained independence at the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The two Latvian panellists, Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen and Kaspars Vanags, discuss through this project how the Latvian population struggles to talk about their political past due to a lack of proper healing.

There are many similarities with the current war between Russia and Ukraine. The lack of transitional justice and healing has prevented Russia and what was the Soviet Union, to bring about the institutional and political changes it needs. The imperialistic mindset that aims to redraw the borders of Russia is outdated. There needs to be transitional justice to stop Putin, and to get Russia out of Ukraine.

Although Russia and Latvia are the only ones discussed in the Green Screen Project as of today, they are not the only countries that can be helped by transitional justice. Colonialism, totalitarianism, dictatorships, cultural assimilation have all left deep wounds in many communities around the world that need to be dealt with. Transitional justice is the first step to a more peaceful world.

Catherine Harvey

Catherine is an undergraduate student at Concordia University, pursuing a BA in Political Science with a minor in Law and Society. She focuses on international relations, foreign policy, and human rights. She is fighting for a brighter future for people in need.

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