Funding Transitional Justice

About the project

Donors can have a large impact on Transitional Justice (TJ) in societies that have experienced periods of mass violence and repression. Levels of funding influence the type of justice that can be pursued after conflict or atrocity, and the quality of TJ mechanisms. Alongside this, there are often assumptions made that outside actors are driving and shaping justice processes, but many of these claims are based on anecdotes with a lack of hard data to make the connections.

With this in mind, this project used machine learning to sift through massive data sets and analyse long-term trends to generate a systematic comparative study of donor support for TJ, including how much money donors and the international community spend on justice processes, as well as what kind of processes they focus on. The aim of this research is to inform debates about the priorities of donors, including around gender programming in TJ, and the role of international actors in TJ processes.

Key findings

There is a lack of transparency regarding how and where money is spent in justice processes.

Despite increased rhetoric around aid transparency in the foreign aid and policy space, and a growing academic literature base critically examining this area, key gaps in knowledge remain. For example, relatively little is known about how donor funds for TJ are being specifically tracked, spent, and assessed. Furthermore, there is limited transparency about if and how affected communities in the conflict contexts are being consulted about how best to use TJ funding. Despite the rhetoric about transparency, this area remains murky and inaccessible

Existing data is gathered and categorised in such a way that makes it difficult to apply a gender lens.

Where data does exist, a gender lens has often not been applied or accounted for. The lack of gender-disaggregated data makes it hard to discern the extent to which gender justice is taken into account in funding decisions.

How TJ funding is framed and communicated matters. But language and definitions vary across context and donors.

Key terms and their implied meanings, such as “transformation” and “transitional justice” vary across donor and funding contexts. For example, when looking at funding from the UK Government for justice processes, many projects that explicitly invoked ‘transitional justice’ actually focused on security concerns

Government driven aid and programmes for justice processes are often fragmented and lack a specific transitional justice strategy.

Often there are multiple different parts of governments and ministries working on justice initiatives, which means the number of projects multiplies, but each has relatively small budgets, leading to a fragmented approach to justice programming and spend.

If we’re talking specifically about lack of transparency with transitional justice funding for example, I think a significant part of the reason is just that the spending touches on so many, or is potentially in so many, different areas


Donors and funders of justice processes.

Transparency is essential. Donors and funders should prioritise transparency around how transitional justice funding decisions are made. This requires consistent and clear use of terminology, robust reporting systems, and a willingness to engage collaboratively with other key actors and stakeholders.

Align gender and transitional justice strategies and incorporate gender analysis in funding decisions. Many donors have developed gender strategies, and transitional justice strategies, but there is not necessarily an alignment between them, or a recognition of the many ways transitional justice is gendered. There needs to be an awareness of the multiplicity of ways women and marginalised populations are differently affected by conflict, and in turn justice processes. This should impact what and who gets funded, and how.

Government ministries and organisations involved in implementing transitional justice programmes.

Direct and sustained consultation with those who are the most impacted by justice programmes is vital to shape which justice programmes are funded and how they are implemented. Governments need to move beyond tokenistic engagement and engage in meaningful consultation on projects with communities most affected. Whilst there has been more engagement with civil society in terms of developing projects, all too often this is elite civil society, those who are highly educated and from the majority population.

Case Study

The International Criminal Court

As a part of its wider work examining transitional justice funding, this project developed a new dataset examining the evolution of the ICC’s funding and investigated how it has been used to advance political agendas, as well as its alignment with the Court’s stated priorities on gender equality, gender justice, and prosecuting sexual and gender-based crimes. The following case study provides a deeper dive into this area of the project’s work.

Funding issues lie at the heart of many controversies facing the International Criminal Court (ICC), with critics questioning its efficiency, allocation of resources, and focus on certain regions. Budget pressures intensified during the 2008 Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic, leading state parties to demand greater efficiency and a broader scope of investigations.

The ICC struggles to deliver impartial justice while relying on unpredictable state funding, and often underestimates its resource needs. States may use their financial support to maintain control over international courts or discipline rivals while claiming the moral high ground.

Key findings

Budget constraints hinder the ICC’s ability to deliver justice. The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) receives 32% of the Court’s budget, while only 2.2% is dedicated to defense counsel. This represents a weaker investment in defense legal aid compared to previous international criminal tribunals.

Many state parties are behind in their funding commitments. Debt politics is another issue the ICC faces, as many state parties fail to pay their dues, which affects the Court’s ability to fulfill its mission. As of 2019, predominantly rich state parties were the largest debtors, collectively owing €80 million when the ICC’s annual budget was slightly over €148 million. The Rome Statute contains provisions to sanction state parties for nonpayment, but these consequences are limited, particularly for richer countries. Mechanisms do exist to punish funding shortfalls, but they largely target poor countries that are not strategic allies of wealthy states parties.

The ICC’s ability to fulfill the promise of the Rome Statute is influenced by funding. While the Court’s proposed budgets have seen an increase in gender mentions over time, the focus has shifted from representation and resources for gender-sensitivity training to psychosocial resources for victims and witnesses, gender analysis in investigations, and fair gender representation at the Court.

The OTP’s lack of resources partly contributes to the limited success in prosecuting sexual and gender-based crimes. The Trust Fund for Victims (TFV), responsible for reparations and victim support, is significantly underfunded and struggles with unpredictable funding sources. The TFV relies on voluntary donations, which is unsustainable, and states should focus on tracing, freezing, and seizing assets of convicted persons to benefit reparations. There has however been a high level of voluntary donations to the sexual and gender-based crimes programmes at the TVF.

The underfunding of the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) primarily rests with wealthy state parties, indicating that they are less committed to reparative than retributive justice. Providing meaningful and timely reparations has been challenging for the Court, with only a fraction of eligible victims receiving tangible benefits. Although the Reparations Order in the Ntaganda case is a victory for gender-sensitive reparations, fulfilling the TFV’s mandate still depends on sufficient funding from state parties and other actors.

The ICCs budget is influenced by state parties and the political environment. The ICC’s reliance on state parties for funding and the politicisation of its budget are highlighted by the response of state parties to the Ukraine situation. While the increased funding may support the Court’s work on gender-based crimes, it also raises questions about the ICC’s impartiality and its ability to convince state parties that it provides value for money. These funding dynamics demonstrate that the Court is a tool of powerful states. Funding constraints are introduced when the Court demonstrates independence and investigates situations that wealthy States Parties would prefer they avoid.

What does the ICC spend its money on?

Office of the Prosecutor
Secretariat of the Assembly of States Parties
Secretariat of the Trust Fund for Victims
Independent Oversight Mechanism
Office of Internal Audit
Host State Loan


Data is being presented with a logarithmic scale, not a linear scale.

Debt Politics

Top debtors in 2019 by absolute amount in arrears (amount in euros)

South Korea
United Kingdom

Number of mentions of gender in ICC proposed budgets


Largest debters

Predominantly rich state parties were the largest debtors, collectively owing €80million when the ICC’s annual budget was slightly over €148 million (2019).

80 m Collective debt
148 m Annual debt

“Providing financial support to the ICC allows states to demonstrate a commitment to global accountability norms while tarnishing rivals, as evidenced by Western governments interest in funding investigations of crimes arising from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”


Donors and the International Criminal Court

  • The Court and donors should adopt a gender mainstreaming approach to all budget and resource allocation issues.
  • More money needs to be devoted to delivering on tangible benefits for victims over administrative costs.
  • The Trust Fund for Victims (TFV), needs more of its funding to come from mandatory contributions to facilitate stability for planning purposes.

The International Criminal Court

  • The Court needs to demonstrate to States Parties the impact that uneven and unreliable funding has on its ability to deliver timely and effective justice. It also needs to communicate more clearly that donations must not be targeted to specific situations or potential prosecutions as this calls the independence of the Court into question.
  • Additional resources are needed to sustain and expand progress on prioritising gender-based crimes and crimes against children across all parts of the Court’s operations.