Source: (2009) Scottsville: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press

The so-called peace versus justice dilemma arises following violent conflict, in which victims and their families, local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and other actors in the international community often demand that some form of accountability be imposed on the perpetrators of gross human rights violations and war crimes. Those calling for accountability frequently insist that it must be pursued for the sake of the victims, their survivors, society at large, deterrence and the (re)building of democracy and the rule of law. Those seeking to promote peacebuilding (a broad range of activities to ensure that conflict does not re-emerge) may concur that there is value in seeking accountability, but raise concerns that it may destabilise fragile post-conflict states. These two positions often form the poles of the so-called peace versus justice debate, which deals with the critical policy decisions made about accountability in the context of peacemaking and peacebuilding. This dichotomous dilemma is often overstated. In reality the choice is seldom simply ‘justice’ or ‘peace’ but rather a complex mixture of both. The practice of transitional justice, as it has emerged over the past 25 years or so, offers a range of options to states emerging from conflict, including truth commissions, domestic trials, international and hybrid tribunals and traditional justice mechanisms. Much can be learned from earlier experiences of transition in southern Europe and Latin America that may help to inform African countries considering transitional justice processes.1 This volume takes account of those prior transitions, while focusing on the challenges and practices of pursuing peace and justice in Africa. (excerpt)