The United Nations defines transitional justice as “the full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempt to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale past abuses, in order to ensure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation.”
MIDDLE EAST-ASIA PROJECT (MAP) ESSAYS ON TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE:
An internationalized transitional justice process has been underway in Cambodia for some years and appears to be nearing a conclusion. This retributive justice process—formally known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) and informally called the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT)—was designed to achieve accountability for gross human rights violations between 1975 and 1979, when Cambodia was ruled by a political movement known as the Khmer Rouge. The ECCC has generated useful lessons for other countries that may be considering a similar exercise. This essay will review a few of those lessons, including (1) political obstacles to ensuring accountability for human rights violations; (2) challenges and limitations of the tribunal model; (3) costs and benefits of amnesties; (4) potential alternative justice mechanisms such as truth commissions, reparations, and apologies; and (5) the consequences of justice too soon and justice delayed.
No transitional justice dilemma is more contested in Tunisia than that of lustration and vetting. While trials of former ruling elites, either in absentia or in the courtroom, grab international headlines, the question of how to deal with the tens of thousands of former Ben Ali regime functionaries who were complicit in past abuses yet are not likely to be brought to trial has proven even more politically charged. To be sure, the question over the fate of these potential targets of lustration and vetting continues to contribute to Tunisia’s prolonged post-revolutionary political crisis, as draft laws on lustration and ad hoc leaks from state archives solidify cleavages among Tunisia’s diverse array of transitional political actors.
Prior to its first democratically elected government taking office in 1988, the Republic of Korea endured a peculiarly harsh twentieth century. The first decade saw Korea’s last dynasty struggle futilely to modernize amidst the specter of growing Japanese interference. From 1910 until 1945, the nation suffered through the traumatic and humiliating period of Japanese colonization, emerging upon Japan’s defeat in World War II only to face the division of the country into North and South Korea and the incredibly destructive Korean War of 1950-1953. The post-Korean War period was characterized by political divisions, human rights abuses, and economic growth, presided over by a series of authoritarian rulers.
The first decade of the twenty-first century has been characterized by the emergence of a new politics of human rights that has become the defining agenda of much national and international politics. This universalist discourse of rights has gained unprecedented leverage in global debate, propelled by narratives that rarely pause to question the evidence or ideology that underlies it. This is nowhere more true than in the practice of human rights after conflict or political violence, in which transitional justice has become a dominant approach to addressing legacies of violations, backed by an industry of practitioners and donors.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE:
The Government and Social Development Resource Center’s (GSDRC) Resources on Transitional Justice contains discussions and a wealth of information on the following topics:
- Where is a good place to start?
- Designing transitional justice strategies
- Impact of transitional justice
- Poverty reduction, socioeconomic development and transitional justice
- Truth commissions and trials
- Reparations, memorialisation, vetting and amnesty
- Non-state justice systems
- Additional information resources
- Report of the Secretary-General: The rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict societies (S/2004/616)
- OHCHR analytical study on human rights and transitional justice
- OHCHR analytical study on human rights and transitional justice: Inventory of human rights and transitional justice aspects of recent peace agreements
- OHCHR study on human rights and transitional justice activities undertaken by the human rights components of the United Nations system
- Guidance Note of the Secretary-General: United Nations Approach to Transitional Justice
- The International Journal of Transitional Justice
- The International Journal of Transitional Justice [electronic resource]
- LSN Transitional Justice e-Journal
TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE CENTERS AND WEB-BASED RESOURCES:
- International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ)
- International IDEA
- Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation
- Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Peace Building Initiative
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Transitional Justice Database Project
- Transitional Justice: Reconstructing Self and Society
- Transformative Justice in Egypt and Tunisia
- United Nations Rule of Law
- United States Institute of Peace/Transitional Justice
- INCORE Guide to Internet Sources on Truth and Reconciliation
- Justice in Perspective (Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation)
- Truth Commissions Project
- Oxford Transitional Justice Research
- Restorative Justice Online
GENERAL WORKS ON TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE:
Books and Reports
Bass, Gary Jonathan. 2002. Stay the Hand of Vengeance: The Politics of War Crimes Tribunals. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Czarnota, Adam, Martin Krygier and Wojciech Sadurski (Eds.) 2005. Rethinking the Rule of Law after Communism. Budapest, NY, Central European: University Press.
De Brito, Alexandra Barahona, Carmen Gonzaléz Enríquez, and Paloma Aquilar (Eds.) 2001. The Politics of Memory: Transitional Justice in Democratizing Societies. New York: Oxford University Press.
Elster, Jon. 2004. Closing the Books: Transitional Justice in Historical Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Elster, Jon. 2004. “Moral Dilemmas of Transitional Justice”, in Practical Conflicts: New Philosophical Essays, ed. by Peter Baumann & Monika Betzler. Pp. 279-294.
Govier, Trudy. 2002. Forgiveness and Revenge. London: Routledge.
Griswold, Charles L. 2007. Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hayner, Priscilla. 2002. Unspeakable Truths: Facing the Challenges of Truth Commissions. London: Routledge.
Herz, John H. (Ed.) 1982. From Dictatorship to Democracy: Coping with the Legacies of Authoritarianism and Totalitarianism. Westport, CT: Greenwood.
Ignatieff, Michael. 1997. The Warrior's Honor: Ethnic War and the Modern Conscience. New York: Owl Books.
Kritz, Neil (Ed.) 1995. Transitional Justice: How Emerging Democracies Reckon with Former Regimes. 3 vols. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.
Kritz, Neil. 2002. “Where We Are and How We Got Here: An Overview of Developments in the Search for Justice and Reconciliation” in The Legacy of Abuse ed. by Alice H. Henkin. New York: the Aspen Institute.
May, Larry. 2007. War Crimes and Just War. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Meredith, Martin. 1999. Coming to Terms: South Africa's Search for Truth. New York: Public Affairs.
Minow, Martha. 1998. Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History after Genocide and Mass Violence. Boston: Beacon Press.
Murphy, Jeffrie G. 2003. Getting Even: Forgiveness and its Limits. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nino, Carlos Santiago. 1996. “Punishment as a Response to Human Rights Violation: A Global Perspective”, in Radical Evil on Trial. New Haven: Yale University Press. Pp. 3-41.
Philpott, Daniel. 2006. The Politics of Past Evil: Religion, Reconciliation, and the Dilemmas of Transitional Justice. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.
Ratner, Steven R. and Jason S. Abrams. 1997. Accountability for Human Rights Atrocities in International Law: Beyond the Nuremberg Legacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Rothberg, Robert I. and Dennis Thompson (Eds.) 2000. Truth v. Justice: The Morality of Truth Commissions. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Teitel, Ruti. 2001. Transitional Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Roht-Arriaza, Naomi, and Javier Mariezcurrena (Eds.) 2006. Transitional Justice in the Twenty-First Century: Beyond Truth versus Justice. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Akhavan, Payam, “Are International Criminal Tribunals a Disincentive to Peace?: Reconciling Judicial Romanticism with Political Realism”, Human Rights Quarterly, 31:3 (2009), 624-654.
Arthur, Paige, ‘How “Transitions” Reshaped Human Rights: A Conceptual History of Transitional Justice’, Human Rights Quarterly, 31:2 (2009), 321-367.
Bell, Christine, “Transitional Justice, Interdisciplinarity and the State of the ‘Field’ or ‘Non-Field’”, International Journal of Transitional Justice, 3:1 (2009), 5-27.
Fletcher, Laurel E., Harvey M. Weinstein and Jamie Rowen, “Context, Timing, and the Dynamics of Transitional Justice: A Historical Perspective”, Human Rights Quarterly, 31:1 (2009), 163-220.
Eisikovits, Nir, ‘Transitional Justice’, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2009).
Glasius, Marlies, “What is Global Justice and who decides? Civil Society and Victim Responses to the International Criminal Court’s First Investigations”, Human Rights Quarterly, 31:2 (2009), 496-520.
Gready, Paul, “Reconceptualising Transitional Justice: Embedded and Distanced Justice”, Conflict, Security and Development, 5:1 (2005), 3-21.
Kritz, Neil, “Accountability for International Crimes and Serious Violations of Human Rights: Coming to Terms with Atrocities: A Review of Accountability Mechanisms for Mass Violations of Human Rights”, Law and Contemporary Problems, 59:4 (1996), 127-152.
Leebaw, Bronwyn Anne, “The Irreconcilable Goals of Transitional Justice”, Human Rights Quarterly, 30:1 (2008), 95-118.
McEvoy, Kieran, “Letting Go of Legalism: Developing a ‘Thicker’ Version of Transitional Justice”, Journal of Law and Society, 34:4 (2007), 411-440.
Mendez, Juan, “Accountability for Past Abuses”, Human Rights Quarterly, 19:2 (1997), 255-282.
Orentlicher, Diane F., “Settling Accounts Revisited: Reconciling Global Norms and Local Agency”, International Journal of Transitional Justice, 1:1 (2007), 10-22.
Orentlicher, Diane F., “Settling Accounts: The Duty to Prosecute Human Rights Violations of a Prior Regime”, Yale Law Journal, 100:8 (1991), 2537-2615.
Peskin, Victor, “Beyond Victor's Justice? The Challenge of Prosecuting the Winners at the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda”, Journal of Human Rights, 4:2 (2005), 213-231.
Robins, Simon and Ram Kumar Bhandari. 2012. “From victims to actors: Mobilising victims to drive transitional justice process”, NEFAD: Kathmandu.
Teitel, Ruti, “Transitional Jurisprudence: The Role of Law in Political Transformation”, Yale Law Review, 106:7 (1997), 2009-2080.
Teitel, Ruti, “Transitional Justice Genealogy”, Harvard Human Rights Journal, 16 (2003), 69-94.
Teitel, Ruti, “Transitional Justice Globalized”, International Journal of Transitional Justice, 2:1 (2008), 1-4.
Villalba, Clara Sandoval, “Transitional Justice: Key Concepts, Processes and Challenges,” Institute For Democracy And Conflict Resolution (IDCR) (July 2011).
BACKGROUND MATERIAL ON COUNTRIES FEATURED IN THIS SERIES:
ARAB WORLD (General):
- Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and Legal Profession (ACIJLP)
- Arab Network for Human Rights Information
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
- Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
- Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
- National Council for Human Rights
- National Community of Human Rights and Law
- Transformative Justice in Egypt and Tunisia
Abou-El-Fadl, Reem, “Beyond Conventional Transitional Justice: Egypt’s 2011 Revolution and the Absence of Political Will”, The International Journal of Transitional Justice, 6:2 (2012), 318-330.
Barsalou, Judy, “Transitional Justice in Egypt: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back”, Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Center (June 2012).
Hanna, Michael Wahid, “Egypt’s Search for Truth”, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, 3 (2011), 67-83.
Kassem, Taha, “Transitional Justice in Post-Revolution Egypt: A Reality or an Illusion?” International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 2:5 (2013), 47-56.
Morsy, Ahmed, “Transitional Justice: Egypt’s Way Forward”, Middle East Institute (July 2013).
Petkova, Mariya, “Transitional Justice in Egypt: A Comparison”, Aljazeera Center for Studies (December 2012).
Tawab, Ziad Abdel, “The Crisis of Transitional Justice Following the ‘Arab Spring’: Egypt as a Model”, CIHRS (2013).
- Geneva International Centre for Justice (Iraq)
- Iraqi High Tribunal [Iraq’s Official Transitional Justice Court]
- International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC) [Justice Sector Support for Iraq]
- Human Rights Watch [International Justice: Iraq]
Afrin, Zakia, “Post-Conflict Justice in Iraq”, Annual Survey of International and Comparative Law, 14:1 (2010), 23-40.
Bassiouni, M. Cherif, “Post-Conflict Justice in Iraq: An Appraisal of the Iraq Special Tribunal”, Cornell International Law Journal 101 (2005).
Bell, Christine, Colm Campbell, Fionnuala Ni Aolain, “The Battle for Transitional Justice: Hegemony, Iraq and International Law”. In John Morison, Kieran McEvoy, and Gordon Anthony (eds) Judges, Transition, and Human Rights (Oxford University Press, 2007), 147-165.
Hollywood, Dana Michael, “The Search for Post-Conflict Justice in Iraq: A Comparative Study of Transitional Justice Mechanisms and Their Applicability to Post-Saddam Iraq” Brooklyn Journal of International Law, 59 (2007), 116-121.
ICTJ and Human Rights Center, University of California at Berkeley, Iraqi Voices: Attitudes Toward Transitional Justice and Social Reconstruction (May 2004).
Law, Leonard J., “Rule of Law in Iraq: Transitional Justice Under Occupation”, US Army Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth (2004).
Sarkin, Jeremy and Heather Sensibaugh, “Why achieving reconciliation in Iraq is possible: Suggestions for mechanisms and processes including a truth and reconciliation commission”, PRAXIS: The Fletcher Journal of Human Security, 23 (2008), 5-32.
Sissons, Miranda, and Abdulrazzaq Al-Saiedi, “A Bitter Legacy: Lessons of De-Baathification in Iraq”, International Center for Transitional Justice (March 2013).
Sissons, Miranda, “Iraq’s New ‘Accountability and Justice’ Law”, ICTJ Briefing Paper (January 22, 2008).
Stover, Eric, Hanny Megally, and Hania Mufti, “Bremer’s ‘Gordian Knot’: Transitional Justice and the US Occupation of Iraq”, Human Rights Quarterly, 27:3 (2005), 830-853.
Stover, Eric, Miranda Sissons, Phuong Pham and Patrick Vinck, “Justice on Hold: Accountability and Social Reconstruction in Iraq”, International Review of the Red Cross, 90:869 (March 2008), 5-28.
Tarin, Danielle, “Prosecuting Saddam and Bungling Transitional Justice in Iraq”, Virginia Journal of International Law (Winter 2005), 467.
Hanafi, Leila, “Libya and the ICC: In the Pursuit of Justice?” The North Africa Journal (May 15, 2012).
Hayner, Priscilla, “Libya: The ICC Enters During War”, European Council on Foreign Relations (November 2013).
International Crisis Group, Trial by Error: Justice on Post-Qadhafi Libya, Middle East/North Africa Report, No. 140 (April 17, 2013).
International Legal Assistance Consortium, Rule of Law Assessment Report: Libya 2013, (May 2013).
Kersten, Mark, “Lustration in Libya: Ruling Congress to Pass ‘Political Isolation Law’”, Justice in Conflict (December 28, 2012).
Triponel, Anna and Paul R. Williams. “The Clash of the Titans: Justice and Realpolitik in Libya”, American University International Law Review, 28:3 (2013), 776-834.
Tupaz, Edsel, “International Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Libya”, JURIST – Sidebar (August 31, 2011).
Tupaz, Edsel and Daniel Wagner, “Ensuring Justice in Transitional Libya”, JURIST - Sidebar (November 10, 2011).
- The Damascus Bureau: Transitional Justice for Syria
- IRIN Analysis: The Beginnings of Transitional Justice in Syria
- UNHCR: The Beginnings of Transitional Justice in Syria
- Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC)
- Syria: What is Transitional Justice? [IWPR]
- Center for Documentation of Violations in Syria
- United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria
Dworkin, Anthony, “Dilemmas of Justice, Accountability and Peace in Syria”, European Council on Foreign Relations (November 2013).
PILPG, “Mapping Accountability Efforts in Syria (February 2013).
Seils, Paul, “Towards a Transitional Justice Strategy for Syria”, ICTJ (September 2013).
- No Peace without Justice International Criminal Justice Program (Tunisia)
- Kawakibi Democracy Transition Center
- Transformative Justice in Egypt and Tunisia
Gray, Doris H. and Terry Coonan, “Notes from the Field: Silence Kills! Women and Transitional Justice in Post-Revolutionary Tunisia”, The International Journal of Transitional Justice, 7 (2013), 348-357.
Gray, Doris, “In Search of Righting Wrongs: Women and the Transitional Process in Tunisia”, e-International Relations (April 2013).
Lamont, Christopher and Hela Boujneh, “Transitional Justice in Tunisia: Negotiating Justice During Transition”, Politička misao, 49:5 (2012), 32-49.
Mersch, Sara, “The Road to Justice”, Sada Journal (June 2013).
Patel, Ian, “The Limits of Transitional Justice: Orthodoxies in the Transitional Process in Tunisia”, Oxford Transitional Justice Research (OTJR) seminar (2012).
Preysing, Domenica, “Towards ‘Transitional justice’? Policy discourse and processes in Tunisia and Egypt”, draft paper for the BRISMES Annual Conference (March 2012).
- NGO Law Monitor: Yemen
- Sawa’a Organization for Anti-Discrimination
- Yemen Center for Transitional Justice (YCTJ)
Al-Zwaini. Laila, “The Rule of Law in Yemen: Prospects and Challenges”, HiiL’s Rule of Law Quick Scan Series (September 2012).
The Peace and Justice Initiative, Position Paper on Yemeni Draft Law on Transitional Justice and National Reconciliation (March 21, 2012).
Sharqieh, Ibrahim, “International Intervention, Justice, and Accountability in Yemen”, European Council on Foreign Relations (November 2013).
Sharqieh, Ibrahim, “A Lasting Peace? Yemen’s Long Journey to National Reconciliation”, Brookings Institution (February 2013).
- Cambodia: BBC Timeline
- Cambodia: CIA World Factbook
- Documentation Center of Cambodia
- POV Documentaries on the Khmer Rouge Period
- Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
- United Nations Assistance to Khmer Rouge Trials
- The Cambodia Law and Policy Journal
Ablin, David A. and Marlowe Hood (Eds.) 1990. The Cambodian Agony. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.
Abrams, J., “The Atrocities in Cambodia and Kosovo: Observations on the Codification of Genocide”. New England Law Review, 35:2(Winter 2001), 303.
Beauvais, Joel C., “Cambodia, East Timor and Sierra Leone: Experiments in International Justice”, Criminal Law Forum, 12 (2001), 185.
Bit, Seanglim. 1991. The Warrior Heritage: A Psychological Perspective of Cambodian Trauma. Le Cerrito, CA: Seanglim Bit.
Boyden, Jo and Gibbs, Sara. 1997. Children of War: Responses to Psycho-Social Distress in Cambodia. Geneva: UNRISD.
Boyle David. “One More Step - Adoption of the Khmer Rouge Trial Law”. Judicial Diplomacy, Revue Internet (August 5, 2001).
Bunyanunda, Mann. “The Khmer Rouge on Trial: Wither the Defense?” Southern California Law Review (2000-2001), 1581.
Center for Social Development. 2001. The Khmer Rouge and National Reconciliation: Opinions from the Cambodians. Phnom Penh: Center for Social Development.
Chandler, David P., “Will There Be a Trial for the Khmer Rouge?” Annual Journal of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs 14 (2000).
Chea, Vannath. “Reconciliation in Cambodia: Politics, Culture and Religion”. In Reconciliation after Violent Conflict: A Handbook. Stockholm: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.
Chigas, George, “The Trial of Khmer Rouge: The Role of the Tuol Sleng and Santebal Archives”, Harvard Asia Quarterly (2001).
Chigas, George, “The Politics of Defining Justice after the Cambodian Genocide”, Journal of Genocide Research 2 (2000).
Ciorciari, John D. (Ed.) 2006. The Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Documentation Series No. 10. Phnom Penh, Documentation Center of Cambodia.
Cook, Susan E. (Ed.) 2006. Genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda: New Perspectives. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
Cortright, David and George A. Lopez, “Cambodia: Isolating the Khmer Rouge”. In The Sanctions Decade: Assessing UN Strategies in the 1990s, ed. David Cortright and George A. Lopez. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000.
DeNike, Howard J., John Quigley and Kenneth J. Robinson (Eds.) 2000. Genocide in Cambodia: Documents from the Trial of Pol Pot and Ieng Sary. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Donovan, Daniel Kemper, “Joint U.N.-Cambodia efforts to establish a Khmer Rouge Tribunal”. Harvard International Law Journal , 44:2 (2003), 551.
Ea, Meng-Try, and Sorya Sim. 2001. Victims and Perpetrators? Testimony of Young Khmer Rouge Comrades. Phnom Penh: Documentation Center of Cambodia.
Etcheson, Craig, “Accountability Beckons During a Year of Worries for the Khmer Rouge Leadership”. ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law 6 (2000), 507.
Etcheson, Craig. 2005. After the Killing Fields: Lessons from the Cambodian Genocide. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Etcheson, Craig, “Beyond the Khmer Rouge Tribunal”, Phom Penh Post, 12:22 (October 24-November 6, 2003).
Etcheson, Craig, “Faith Traditions and Reconciliation in Cambodia”, paper prepared for the “Settling Accounts? Truth, Justice, and Redress in Post-conflict Societies” Conference, Harvard University. November 1-3, 2004.
Etcheson, Craig, “From Theory to Facts in the Cambodian Genocide”. International Network on Holocaust and Genocide, 12:1-2 (1997), 4-7.
Etcheson, Craig. 2000. The Number - Quantifying Crimes Against Humanity in Cambodia. Phnom Penh: Documentation Center of Cambodia.
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Hannum, Hurst, “International Law and Cambodian Genocide: The Sounds of Silence”, Human Rights Quarterly, 11:1 (February 1989), 82-138.
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Lambourne, Wendy, “Post-Conflict Peacebuilding: Meeting Human Needs for Justice and Reconciliation”, Peace, Conflict and Development, 4 (April 2004), 1-24.
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Linton, Suzannah, “Cambodia, East Timor and Sierra Leone: Experiments in International Justice”, Criminal Law Forum, 12 (2001), 185.
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McGrew, Laura, “Leaders of Civil Society Speak Out”, Phnom Penh Post, 9:3 (February 4-17, 2000), 12-15.
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Hilmar Farid and Rikardo Simarmatra. 2004. The Struggle for Truth and Justice: A Survey of Transitional Justice Initiatives Throughout Indonesia. International Center for Transitional Justice Occasional Paper Series.
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 See S/2004/616.