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Transitional Historical Justice

Teitel, Ruti G
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) In, Lukas H. Meyer, ed., Justice in Time: Responding to Historical Injustice. Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft. Pp. 209-221.

As Ruti Teitel remarks at the beginning of this chapter, we live in a time where questions of transitional justice are increasing. How should a society deal with a history involving past crimes and injustices? Should society simply let a legacy of injustice fade away? Should it vigorously prosecute those responsible? What obligations are owed to victims? How can a society move toward stability and peace? Amid these and other questions, Teitel proposes that we should think about law and political transformation in terms of a distinctive conception of justice. This conception of justice would be distinctive to the context of political transformation, with law playing a constitutive role in transitions. In other words, the problem of justice in a transitional context requires a distinctive discourse organized in terms of the profound dilemmas characteristic of the extraordinary nature of transitional situations. On these bases, Teitel considers a number of difficult issues pertaining to the pursuit of justice in transitional societies: the dilemmas of punishment; transitional criminal sanction; transitional justice as liberal narrative; the identification of a history through legal processes; and implications of the passage of time for transitional justice.


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