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Transitional justice, federalism and the accommodation of minority nationalism

Kymlicka, Will
June 4, 2015

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)


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