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

Th e framework of transitional justice, originally devised to facilitate reconciliation in countries undergoing transitions from authoritarianism to democracy, is increasingly used to respond to certain types of human rights violations against indigenous peoples— even in cases where there is no regime transition. Th e Canadian government has attempted to use such measures as reparations, a truth commission, commemoration and an offi cial state apology to address the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools. Th is paper outlines some of the potential complexities involved in processing indigenous demands for justice through a transitional justice framework. Th ere are three broad areas in which the interests and goals of governments and indigenous peoples may clash. First, governments and indigenous peoples may diff er over the scope of injustices that transitional justice measures can address. Second, governments may try to use transitional justice to draw a line through the past and legitimate present policy, whereas indigenous peoples may try to use the past to critique present policy and conditions. Th ird, governments may try to use transitional justice to assert their sovereign and legal authority, while indigenous peoples may make competing claims to sovereignty and legal authority. (excerpt)

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