Emilie Gaillard – Trauma transgénérationnels

Expert Group Meeting: 
“Truth, transitional justice and reconciliation processes” 
Santiago (Chile), November 15th -17th, 2022

Emilie GAILLARD, General coordinator of the Normandy Chair of excellence for Peace,
Peace with the Earth and Rights of Future Generations.


The NCP kindly submit to the UN Permanent Forum of Indigenous People to emphasize on the need to integrate the transgenerational legacy of traumas which is now well documented in sciences. It has been showed that people who experience traumatisms, have a memory graved in their DNA. They transmit to the following generations epigenetics informations. The NCP calls for taking transgenerational traumas into account within any process of Transitionnal Justice. A right to health and to a healthy life through generations should be implemented from this new perspecgtive.

The psychologist Yael Danieli, Docteur , has paved the way to gagther elements of healing after massive traumatization. The Normandy Chair for Peace would like to highlight her research in the present arena. She identified the necessary components for healing in the wake of massive trauma.  Emerged from interviews with survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, Japanese and Armenian Americans, victims from Argentina and Chile, and professionals working with them, both in and outside their countries, these components are presented as goals and recommendations, organized from the individual, societal, national, and International perspectives, as follows. First of all, reestablishment of the victims’ equality of value, power, esteem (dignity), the basis of reparation in the society or nation.  

This is accomplished by:

  •  a/compensation, both real and symbolic
  •  b. restitution; 
  • c. rehabilitation and 
  • d. commemoration.

Second, by relieving the victim’s stigmatization and separation from society.  This is accomplished by:

  •  a. commemoration; 
  • b. memorials to heroism; 
  • c. empowerment; 
  • d. education, on all levels and media.

Thirdly, Repairing the nations’ ability to provide and maintain equal value under law and the provisions of justice.  This is accomplished by, 

  • a. prosecution; 
  • b. genuine apology;  
  • c. establishing national secure public records; d. education, on all levels and media; e. creating national mechanisms for monitoring, conflict resolution and preventive interventions.

Fourthly, by asserting the commitment of the international community to combat impunity and provide and maintain equal value under law and the provisions of justice and redress.  This is accomplished by, 

  • a. creating and utilizing ad hoc and permanent mechanisms for prosecution (e.g., ad hoc Tribunals, the International Criminal Court); 
  • b. establishing international secure public records; 
  • c. education, on all levels and media; 
  • d. creating international mechanisms for monitoring, conflict resolution and preventive interventions.

Last but not least, it is important to emphasize that this comprehensive framework, rather than presenting alternative means of reparation, sets out necessary complementary elements, all of which are needed to be applied in different weights, in different situations, cultures and context, and at different points in time. It is also essen¬tial that victims/ survivors participate in the choice of the reparation measures adopted for them. While justice is crucially one of the healing agents, it does not replace the other psychological and social elements necessary for recovery. It is thus a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for healing. Moreover, the different elements must be applied to transitional or alternative justice mech¬anisms such as truth commissions.

1. Yael Danieli, PhD , cf: www.dryaeldanieli.com and www.icmglt.org. Originally published in 1992 in T.C. van Boven, C. Flinterman, F. Grunfeld & I. Westendorp (Eds.) The Right to Restitution, Compensation and Rehabilitation for Victims of Gross Violations of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.  Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, Special Issue No. 12 (pp. 196-213).  Also published in N.J. Kritz (Ed.) (1995). Transitional Justice: How Emerging Democracies Reckon with Former Regimes. Vol. 1 (pp. 572-582). Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace.  An updated version, Justice and reparation: steps in the process of healing appeared in 1998 in C.C. Joyner (Ed.), Reining in Impunity for International Crimes and Serious Violations of Fundamental Human Rights: Proceedings of the Siracusa Conference 17-21 September 1998.  International Review of Penal Law, 14. pp. 303-312.

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