Source: (2009) Research Brief. October. New York: International Center for Transitional Justice.

In societies scarred by ethnic animosity or religious intolerance, one goal of transitional justice is to help reshape identities. In particular the aim is to weaken aspects of identities that were the source of violence and confl ict and replace those with a strengthened sense of shared identity related to common membership in the national political community. Th is is often described as the “nation-building” dimension of transitional justice. It is essential not only for peace, but also for democratic consolidation. Th is nation-building function of transitional justice is a delicate task in any context, but it is particularly fraught with danger when a country undergoing a democratic transition contains a strongly mobilized minority nationalist movement seeking some form of self-government on a territorial basis, either through federalization or independence. Th e cases of the Catalans in 1970s Spain, the Kurds in Iraq today, and the Acehnese in Indonesia raise some acute dilemmas about the relationship between transitional justice, nation-building and democratic consolidation. (excerpt)