Rethinking Resistance to Transitional Justice

in Conflict and Society

Transitional justice, as a process and set of mechanisms designed to address human rights violations of the past, is a project of transformation. Designed to deal with legacies of past wrongs, transitional justice ideally aims to address their root causes, to adjudicate social and institutional responsibilities, to transform the institutional contexts and power relations that enabled human rights violations to take place, to restore, repair, or facilitate new relationships and to promote national unity and reconciliation. Now an established policy response to the end of civil war, authoritarian regimes or occupation, transitional justice has been the focus of scholarly attention for long enough to have warranted a critical turn, both in terms of the way transitional justice is theorized (Corradetti, Eisikovits, and Rotondi 2015; Hirsch 2012) and the way in which it is implemented and experienced in practice. Examples of such critiques include accusations of imposition of western norms that are not culturally meaningful in some contexts, of the dominance of legal approaches to justice at the expense of the restorative and symbolic, of its instrumentalization by the powerful for the consolidation of authority or privilege, and of limited evidence that it actually has a positive impact on justice and peace (see, e.g., Iliff 2012; Leebaw 2008; Pouligny 2005).

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