We like to think of peace and justice as inseparable twins; two concepts both alike in dignity. Yet, the tension between them is striking when we go into concrete experience. Reconciling peace and justice inevitably invokes the field of transitional justice. Here are some key resources. By Ivan Shalev
In the period after a conflict, every society is faced with extremely complex moral, legal and political choices. Transitional justice is a field that examines the aftermath of war and mass atrocities. Its guiding principle is the victims’ and survivors’ interest. It entails judicial and non-judicial measures. Any attempt to reconcile peace and justice, a preoccupation of mediators and many others, would refer to the elements of transitional justice. To get a glimpse of what it means, we compiled five key resources.
This Secretary-General’s Guidance Note provides the transitional justice approach for UN entities and partners to integrate in their activities. It is based on the UN’s vast experience in post-conflict situations. It outlines the key components of transitional justice, conventionally known as truth, justice, reparations, guarantees of non-recurrence.
This ICTJ database of publications contains some of the most compelling analysis in the area. It can be navigated by country or issue, including on ongoing processes of transitional justice. Reparations in Theory and Practice and Pursuing Justice in Ongoing Conflict are a great starting point.
This recently adopted policy framework is part of an EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy. It makes the EU the first regional organisation to have a dedicated strategy on transitional justice. It builds upon the EU’s particularly strong support for the International Criminal Court and combatting of impunity.
These are the transcripts of amnesty hearings in South Africa. Perpetrators and survivors gave their account of gross human rights violations to encourage inter-personal and national reconciliation. It is perhaps the most emblematic truth-seeking process, but there are many other examples. Video excerpts, including of the harrowing testimonies by widows of the abducted and murdered activists known as ‘Pebco Three’ and ‘Cradock Four’, are available online.
This United States Institute of Peace collection provides an excellent overview for researchers on various truth commissions and substantive bodies of inquiry. It contains background information on their composition, links to the official legislative texts and the final reports and findings.