Transitional Justice from Below
Although relatively new as a distinct field of study, transitional justice has become rapidly established as a vital field of enquiry. From vaguely exotic origins on the outer edges of political science, the study of justice in times of transition has emerged as a central concern of scholarship and practical policy-making. A process of institutionalization has confirmed this importance. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Criminal Court, hybrid tribunals in Sierra Leone and East Timor, and 'local' processes such as the Iraqi Higher Tribunal have energized international law and international criminal justice scholarship. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission was for a time lauded as the model for dealing with the past and remains one of the most researched institutions in the world. It is one of approximately two dozen such institutions established in different transitional contexts over the past twenty years to assist conflicted societies to come to terms with a violent past. At the national level, international donors contribute huge sums of money to 'Rule of Law' programs designed to transform national justice systems. This collection offers something quite different to the mainstream of scholarship in this area, emphasizing the need for solutions to different transitions rather than 'off the shelf' models. The collection is designed to offer a space for diversity, prompted by a series of perspectives 'from below' of societies beset by past violent conflict which have sought to effect their transition to justice. In doing so, the contributors have also sought to enrich discussion about the role of human rights in transition, the continuing usefulness of perspectives from above, and the still contested meanings of 'transition.'
Publication Date: 7/21/2008