This guest post is written by Refik Hodzic, Director of Communications at the International Center for Transitional Justice.

The International Center for Transitional Justice’s “Peace versus Justice: A False Dilemma” video explores the relationship between peace and justice and the raging debate that often excludes one at the expense of the other. ICTJ’s president David Tolbert and other experts speak alongside Kofi Annan, Ishmael Beah and human rights activists from Kenya, Indonesia and Colombia on the role of justice in sustaining peace, ensuring non-repetition of human rights abuses and reinstating respect for the rule of law.

Watch the 6-minute video here:

Why Use Video to Tell This Story?

The main aim of the ‘Peace and Justice’ video is to argue that peace and justice are not exclusive, as some powerful mediators contend, but in fact mutually reinforcing goals of any sustainable effort to address legacies of mass violence and repression. We decided to use video to contribute to the debate in order to remind viewers of the poignant reality of the issue, which often remains trapped in the sometimes sterile heights of political and academic discourse.

Its primary target audiences are the participants in the debate—policymakers, human rights advocates and other actors in the transitional justice arena—both those who are already part of ICTJ’s network and those who are not yet aware of our work. In thinking of the latter target groups, we were careful to ensure the film clearly speaks to audiences not necessarily familiar with the concept of transitional justice but interested in human rights issues.

The considerations of target audiences are driving our distribution strategy: we distributed the video and the information on its release on our website, YouTube and Facebook and through our contact networks with immediate impact. This effort helped us promptly reach segments of our primary audience while we continue to draw on support of our partners to further distribute and reach additional viewers not directly connected to ICTJ. In addition, through tagging and relinking we used search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to ensure users looking for information on peace and justice are able to access the video in the future.

Our goal is for the video to draw attention to ICTJ’s position in the peace and justice debate and drive policymakers and all interested in the issue to ICTJ’s considerable expertise in this area. We want to send the a clear message that excluding justice measures from peace efforts is not only morally unacceptable but completely counter-productive in reaching sustainable peace in the aftermath of mass violence. Our vast body of work serves as best evidence for this notion.

Producing With a Small Production Team and Budget

The project was conceived as collaboration with Protean Films, as part of a wider project of redefining ICTJ’s online presence and communications strategy, in which video is going to play a much larger role.

ICTJ’s project manager Carolyn Harting and Protean’s producers Scott Thode and Michael Hanna headed the team over the four months in which we went from planning to final cut approval. The process included conceptualizing the notion we wanted to communicate and applying innovative production techniques to bring it to life in a visually rich and briskly paced style, where the ICTJ’s expertise and the network of contacts blended excellently with the experience of Thode and Hanna.

This enabled us to combine rich interviews with ICTJ experts and the likes of Kofi Annan and Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier from Sierra Leone turned justice activist who worked closely with ICTJ in the past, with striking photos from VII photographers and original graphics produced by Protean. In addition, ICTJ’s field offices were an excellent source of material featuring prominent justice advocates working in various countries, which effectively brought local voices into the mix. It all contributed to having a relatively small production team working on a modest budget and producing a visually exciting short film that effectively communicates the message.

Sparking Conversation and Measuring Success

The early indications show we have reasons to hope for some success, as it has been seen by more people in the first week of its release than any previous videos produced by ICTJ. And as we at ICTJ consider using video to bring attention to other justice-related issues, we would be thankful for your feedback on this short film. Does it, in its six minutes, effectively argue the case for peace and justice going hand in hand?

One thought on “Can Video Stir the Debate on Peace and Justice?

  1. Online seems to be the main distribution channel for release, thus, I’m curious to know why did you choose to structure the story using Freytag’s Pyramid and the single three act structure rather than a more Odyssen plot structure or serial structure that lends itself to take the most advantage of online technologies?

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