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Transitional Justice, Conflict, and Democratic Change: International Interventions and Domestic Reconciliation

Leebaw, Bronwyn
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Prepared for the APSA Task Force on Difference and Inequality in the Developing World

To what extent have transitional justice have transitional justice institutions succeeded in advancing these goals? What do we know about the social and political implications of transitional justice institutions? This report provides a critical overview of recent scholarship on transitional justice. It begins by placing transitional justice promotion in historical context by charting the shifting goals and enduring dilemmas associated with these institutions. The remaining sections evaluate dominant claims advanced to support the role of transitional justice. In some cases, transitional justice institutions have played a role in deepening democratic change and establishing a basis
for political community. However, it is misleading to suggest that these institutions are necessary to achieving such goals and may, at times, undermine them. Scholars do not provide simple answers to explain why transitional justice succeeds, but they do provide
important insights in critically assessing common assumptions and practices. The report concludes by discussing the implications of four trends in transitional justice policy: 1)the reliance on sweeping generalizations regarding the ways in which individuals,
communities, and nations “heal” from past conflicts; 2) the conceptual conflation of distinct goals such as democracy and reconciliation, as well as the short term
compromises and long term aspirations associated with these goals; 3) the neglect of distributive justice, and 4) the narrow focus on local responsibility for conflicts with significant external intervention.(excerpt)


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