After periods of widespread conflict or repression, the regular justice system of a country is unlikely to be able to deliver an adequate response that provides sufficient redress for victims and heals the society. Transitional justice refers to the judicial and non-judicial processes and mechanisms countries may use to seek to address mass or systemic war crimes and violations of human rights, including prosecutions, truth-seeking processes, reparations programs, and guarantees of non-recurrence, primarily institutional reforms. Practitioners and scholars largely agree that transitional justice is critical to achieving a durable peace and preventing future harms, however, there is no formula for transitional justice and the needs of each context are unique.
This reading group will examine transitional justice through a lens of dispute system design, engaging questions such as:
- When should a transitional justice system be established?
- When is a context ripe for transitional justice? How can tensions between justice and peace be addressed?
- Who should design and implement the transitional justice processes?
- Who should be the design decision-makers? Who should be consulted? Who should have ownership of the transitional justice system?
- How should a transitional justice system be designed?
- Which judicial and non-judicial processes and mechanisms should be used and how should each be designed? How do these processes and mechanisms intersect and interact with each other? What values should be promoted and what remedies should be provided?
- When is transitional justice complete and how should the transitional justice system be evaluated?
How do implementers know when transitional justice has been concluded? What metrics can be used to evaluate the successes and shortcomings of a system?
All of the above are live and heavily debated questions in the field of transitional justice and will be discussed in the reading group through a combination of readings, country-specific case studies, and a simulation on designing transitional justice. The reading group will also connect with one or more guest speakers who engaged in the design and implementation of transitional justice in their countries.