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Funder: Bridge of Hope - ASHTON Community Trust

Awarded: £17,432

Duration: 30/09/15 – 31/12/18

Staff Involved: Eilish Rooney


Grassroots experience of conflict and transition is the main focus of this community based partnership programme. The Transitional Justice Grassroots Toolkit was initially designed to facilitate a local conversation about transitional justice between political ex-prisoners and former members of the Irish Republican Army, the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force in North Belfast. This part of Belfast is the most politically divided and segregated constituency in Northern Ireland.

People in its marginalized districts experienced intense concentrations of human rights violations throughout the conflict. When the conversation began in Ashton’s Trust’s Bridge of Hope in January 2011 the local peace process was already recognized as a global model for conflict resolution.

The toolkit’s bottom up conversation looked at the process from the very different perspectives of direct experience and an urgent need for local action. Local women’s centers, ex-prisoner organizations and community groups were all already active in the social justice work of dealing with the past, working with victims and survivors and engaging in community transformation.

At the Transitional Justice Institute (TJI), we designed a toolkit to facilitate a conversation about the local impacts of institutional reform, truth, reparation, reconciliation, prosecution & amnesty. The Falls and Shankill Women’s centers were first to test the toolkit and they recommended a user’s guide so that others could join in and have their say. The community experience and knowledge that toolkit users draw on is their starting point and core resource.

Over 370 people have used the toolkit to date. Insights from the local context speak to universal concerns with human rights, gender justice and peace building. TJI colleagues have adapted toolkit methods for their international research and social justice advocacy work.

The toolkit and guide are translated into Arabic and Spanish and freely available online for others to use in their own settings. Each toolkit programme ends with a collective map of transition landmarks where participants name what remains to be done. The toolkit sees pragmatic hope as a form of agency in situations where let-down and despair might more readily overwhelm everyone. In such a situation a grassroots justice conversation may be vital.

Publications include:

Transitional Justice Grassroots Engagement (2012) Toolkit (2012) User’s Guide (2014) Trainer’s Manual (2015).

Download Grassroots Transitional Justice Toolkit

An educational programme for Toolkit trainers is also available.

This material is protected by copyright, Ulster University 2017. All rights reserved.

Please contact for permission to copy, distribute or reprint.

Download The Political Settlements Research Programme Working Paper Justice Learning in Transition: A Grassroots Toolkit

The toolkit programme gratefully received support from the Victims & Survivors Service and the Political Settlements Research Programme.