Social and Public Policy analysis can not be separated from the study of how societies should deal with past human rights abuses. This entails that not only we must advocate for an expansion of our interpretation of Transitional Justice dimensions but also of our understanding of what Social and Public Policy really entails.
Generally speaking the study of Social and Public Policy has been generated as a result of the need of humanity to confront new and old social risks that currently demand new “Shared Responsibilities”. New Social Risks created as a result of the consequences of the modernization process and technological development such as unemployment, crisis and immigration and old risks such as old age, invalidity and illness (or the five “giants evils” of squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease as British economist Beveridge suggested) require decisive and coordinated action not only from governments but also from everyone in Society. The issue at this moment is that unfortunately these social risks are interpreted by States as based on individual responsibility. According to this perspective, the individual alone is the only responsible for the mitigation of risks and satisfaction of his own basic needs and vital minimun. The traditional understanding of the concept of Responsibility has been interpreted in a liberal way and this implies that the individual who causes the damage has the obligation to repair and compensate. However, traditional structures such as the family and the church has been dismantle leaving the individual totally alone and trapped in a world that he is unable to understand. This lack of understanding is what produces fear and anxiety. To accept the new “Shared Responsibilities Approach” requires that States and Society in general interpret the social world from a different perspective. The State not only has the obligation to provide welfare to its citizens in order to mitigate the new and old social risks but also to integrate Transitional Justice dimensions in the policy process in order to deal with past human rights abuses.
From a justiciability perspective Judges of the Structural Reform Litigation not only must be oriented to the future welfare of the rightholders but also to the past systematic, collective and individual human rights violations. Not only Social and Public Policy should be understood from a human rights perspective but also Economic, Social and Cultural rights must be interpreted and linked to Transitional Justice dimensions.
The dimensions of Transitional Justice are well known: Truth, Justice, Reparation, Guarantee of Non Repetition and Institutional Reform. These dimensions can not be implemented in an isolated way, they are not divisible, and they always must be implemented learning from their combinations and interdependence. States have the obligation to investigate violations, take action against those found responsible, provide Integral Reparation and adopt measures to prevent future violation as a guarantee of non repetition.
Millions of people worldwide are suffering as a result of different conflicts. These conflicts are generating an imbalance in the social system that is producing millions of victims of systematic and grave violations who are no able to mitigate the new risks created by society. Not only these victims are unable to achieve full justice and integral reparation for past violations but also their future welfare is not protected and respected, thus States are currently violating International Law. Indeed, high levels of these interacting violations occurs almost every single day. They reflect the irrecursivity of the imbalance in the system. Political willingness to solve this type of violations is almost non existent. However, what is evident is the separation of emergent and morphogenetic spaces in which these cases are perceived. The division of the subject, of the agent has also produced a division of his own self. The agent is continuously losing his own objectivity and is unable to perceive the interaction of events in different spaces. The agent is found instead trapped into a dream, a prison and is unable to escape. Almost on a daily basis violations of Social Rights are occurring throughout the world. Many of these events remain still hidden to the agent as a result of that millions of people still continue suffering in silence.
This type of orientation to the world and particularly to the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Low-income war-torn societies remain a challenge in places such as in Colombia for instance, where in 2011, it was passed an ambitious reparations law which entitles those who were displaced to the restitution of their lands.
This division of dimensions represents a methodological obstacle in the protection of Social Rights. The Separation of Social Risks analysis from the analysis of grave and systematic violations is creating a division between the obligations of socialization of risks and the obligations of Reparations.
The integration of Social Policy analysis and Transitional Justice dimensions will allow broad based and longer term socio-economic policies that aim to redress and prevent widespread inequalities and discrimination.