Institute - Activism & Arts - Namibia: Week of Justice

Namibia: A Week of Justice

Event series in Windhoek and Swakopmund

Institute - Activism & Arts - Namibia: Week of Justice

Namibia: A Week of Justice

Event series in Windhoek and Swakopmund

The events held as part of "Namibia: A Week of Justice" – including the symposium "Colonial Injustice – Addressing Past Wrongs" from 25-26 March 2019 in Windhoek and the conference "International Law in Postcolonial Contexts" from 27-29 March in Swakopmund – were the first of their kind in Namibia.

The public event in Windhoek was organized by ECCHR and the Akademie der Künste (AdK) in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Namibia. The conference, workshops and public event in Swakopmund were part of a joint project by ECCHR and AdK together with the Ovaherero Genocide Foundation (OGF), the Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA) and the Nama Genocide Technical Committee (NGTC).

Project

The event series in Namibia attracted strong interest from a broad variety of civil society actors: lawyers, artists, constitutional historians and civil society experts came together for discussions at panels and other sessions throughout the week. The central topics were the German genocide against the Ovaherero and Nama peoples (1904-08) and ways forward for addressing these past wrongs in a dignified manner.

In his keynote speech, Prof Makau Mutua (University at Buffalo, USA) asked if the Germans could ever truly accept the Ovaherero and Nama peoples as equals. This critical approach was a constant theme throughout the week's events. Prof John Nakuta (University of Namibia) talked about the concept of formalistic equality that reproduces inequality when people live in unequal conditions. Andre du Pisani (University of Namibia) spoke of the genocide as killing by design – constituting an unjustifiable moral crime.

Context

The "Week of Justice" emphasized the importance of having a forum for dialogue between German and Namibian civil society on addressing past wrongs.

After the event series in Namibia, ECCHR's General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck said: "The German government has done nothing for 115 years. But there is still the possibility of achieving some mutual understanding. This would require addressing (post-)colonial injustice not only on an inter-state level but also by German and Namibia society. The Germans cannot be selective when it comes to who they talk to – they must listen and talk to all of those involved in order achieve a truly constructive and forward-thinking discourse."

Related Topics

Related Projects

glossary

Postcolonial legal criticism tries to uncover and challenge colonial continuities in both national and international law.
According to the principle of intertemporality, a legal question has to be assessed on the basis of the laws in effect at the relevant time. This is aimed at ensuring legal certainty and is thus in many cases desirable. However, the application of this principle can sometimes mean, for example, that crimes committed during the colonization of Africa and South America are assessed not in line with today's legal standards but rather in accordance with the racist and discriminating laws of the colonizing powers.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples affirms that indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples. The resolution also affirms that indigenous peoples contribute to the diversity of cultures and that they must not to be discriminated against due to their traditions and the exercise thereof.
In December 1948, the United Nations adopted "The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide" in order to internationally prohibit genocide. The Convention defines genocide as any act committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.

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