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Transitional Justice

Notes from the Field: Silence Kills! Women and the Transitional Justice Process in Post-Revolutionary Tunisia

Citation:

Gray, Doris H., and Terry Coonan. 2013. “Notes from the Field: Silence Kills! Women and the Transitional Justice Process in Post-Revolutionary Tunisia.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 7 (2): 348–57. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijt002.

Authors: Doris H. Gray, Terry Coonan

Abstract:

This article is based on the first collection of testimonies of female former political prisoners in Tunisia. Relying on purposive rather than random sampling, the interviews were aimed at contributing to an authentic Tunisian process of transitional justice that takes cultural, religious and gender-based norms into consideration. To date, the voices of conservative Islamist women detained under the Tunisian dictatorship have been significantly absent from the national discourse on transitional justice. Select voices of women are presented here that can begin to address this gap. The newly elected provisional government, in which the Islamist Ennahda Party enjoys a majority, has established a Ministry of Human Rights and Transitional Justice, the first of its kind in the world. While this augurs well for Tunisia’s future, there is fear that the transitional justice process may nonetheless be captured by political agendas.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Analysis, Gendered Discourses, Justice, Transitional Justice Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa Countries: Tunisia

Year: 2013

Voices Around Us: Memory and Community Empowerment in Reconstruction Efforts in Colombia

Citation:

Ruiz Romero, Gabriel. 2012. “Voices Around Us: Memory and Community Empowerment in Reconstruction Efforts in Colombia.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 6 (3): 547–57. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijs018.

Author: Gabriel Ruiz Romero

Abstract:

Although the Colombian armed conflict has had the most impact in the countryside, rural communities have had only a marginal role in the development of state policies designed to address the effects of violence. Seeking to overcome such marginalization, peasant women victims of the armed conflict from Granada came together to address this imbalance and preserve the memory of their dead and missing relatives. They formed the Asociación de Víctimas de Granada and launched the project, Salón del Nunca Más (Hall of Never Again). This Notes from the Field piece explores the association’s strategies to conserve memory and offers some preliminary observations on the outcomes of the self-healing process within this community.

Keywords: Colombia, memory, community associations, reconstruction, forced disappearances

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2012

Silence as Possibility in Postwar Everyday Life

Citation:

Eastmond, Marita, and Johanna Mannergren Selimovic. 2012. “Silence as Possibility in Postwar Everyday Life.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 6 (3): 502–24. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijs026.

Authors: Marita Eastmond, Johanna Mannergren Selimovic

Abstract:

Silence is a form of communication as multifaceted as speech and as such conveys a broad range of contextually situated social meanings. Often silence is understood as a form of denial and inherently detrimental to processes of reconciliation, but it may help create a sense of ‘normality’ and facilitate encounters between former foes. This article enquires into the role and meanings of silence as tacit forms of communication in postwar social processes and everyday life among people of different ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly as used by the displaced and returnees. It argues that in these contentious settings, everyday social interaction employs silence in ways that empower by communicating respect and even trust, thus forming and sustaining relations important to viable local life. Silence can be used to affirm family continuity and protect close relationships. Silent claims may also ‘speak’ from a marginalized position in relation to hegemonic narratives and make moral claims. Silence may thus be understood as a pragmatic and at times successful strategy for coexistence even when reflecting continued division in the larger society.

Keywords: Bosnia and Herzegovina, silence, memory, displacement, returnees

Topics: Class, Gender, Women, Men, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2012

‘One Pair of Shoes, One Life’: Steps towards Accountability for Genocide in Srebrenica

Citation:

Simić, Olivera, and Kathleen Daly. 2011. “‘One Pair of Shoes, One Life’: Steps towards Accountability for Genocide in Srebrenica.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 5 (3): 477–91. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijr020.

Authors: Olivera Simić, Kathleen Daly

Abstract:

On 15 July each year, Women in Black, an antimilitarist and feminist organization based in Belgrade, organize or participate in events in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to mark the anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica. In 2010, in collaboration with a number of artists, Women in Black blocked the main pedestrian mall in Belgrade and, under police protection, laid out about 500 pairs of shoes given to them by Serbian citizens. Each pair represented the life and death of a person killed in the massacre, and each carried a handwritten message from the person who gave it. We analyse the meaning and significance of this campaign as a civil society mechanism of accountability and moral reparations. Although criminal prosecutions for war crimes in the Balkans have been taking place for nearly two decades, they have not been able to address the conflicts and animosities that persist in the region. We argue that by participating in ‘One Pair of Shoes, One Life,’ Serbian citizens have begun to take steps towards publicly accepting responsibility for failing to prevent the crime of genocide perpetrated in their name.

Topics: Civil Society, Gender, Women, Genocide, Justice, Reparations, Transitional Justice Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2011

The Archive in the Witness: Documentation in Settings of Chronic Insecurity

Citation:

Riaño-Alcalá, Pilar, and Erin Baines. 2011. “The Archive in the Witness: Documentation in Settings of Chronic Insecurity.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 5 (3): 412–33. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijr025.

Authors: Pilar Riaño-Alcalá, Erin Baines

Abstract:

Through an exchange between members of community-based organizations that document human rights violations in northwest Colombia and northern Uganda, this article examines multiple strategies of memory making in which an individual or a collective creates a safe social space to give testimony and re-story past events of violence or resistance. In settings of chronic insecurity, such acts constitute a reservoir of living documents to preserve memories, give testimony, contest impunity and convey the meaning, or the ‘truthfulness,’ of survivors. The living archive disrupts conventional assumptions about what is documentation or witnessing in the field of transitional justice and introduces new interdisciplinary tools to the field with which to learn from and listen differently to survivors.

Topics: Civil Society, Gender, Women, Men, Justice, Transitional Justice, NGOs, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, East Africa, Americas, South America Countries: Colombia, Uganda

Year: 2011

Local Memory Practices in East Timor: Disrupting Transitional Justice Narratives

Citation:

Kent, Lia. 2011. “Local Memory Practices in East Timor: Disrupting Transitional Justice Narratives.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 5 (3): 434–55. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijr016.

Author: Lia Kent

Abstract:

Transitional justice discourse is underpinned by an assumption that trials and truth commissions will assist individuals and societies to ‘come to terms’ with, and move on from, complex legacies of violence. This article considers how local practices of memorialization and commemoration, and the activities of victims’ groups in East Timor, disrupt these assumptions. It highlights how individuals and local communities in East Timor are attempting to ‘remake a world’ in ways that may differ markedly from the priorities of UN-sponsored transitional justice institutions and their nation's leaders. In addition, it explores how some survivors are embracing the language of victims’ rights to appeal to the state to respond to their experiences of suffering. These developments, which indicate that survivors are in various ways embracing, resisting and transforming ‘official’ justice discourses, highlight that the pursuit of justice in post-referendum East Timor is far more dynamic, locally grounded and open-ended than the narrative of transition implies.

Topics: Gender, Women, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Regions: Oceania Countries: Timor-Leste

Year: 2011

Mayan Women Survivors Speak: The Gendered Relations of Truth Telling in Postwar Guatemala

Citation:

Crosby, Alison, and M. Brinton Lykes. 2011. “Mayan Women Survivors Speak: The Gendered Relations of Truth Telling in Postwar Guatemala.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 5 (3): 456–76. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijr017.

Abstract:

Truth telling in response to massive violations of human rights is a gendered sociopolitical and cultural construction. It is also inherently relational and necessitates multidimensional engagement between state and civil society. Drawing on two years of feminist participatory action research, this article explores the significance of civil society-initiated truth-telling processes in Guatemala, in particular the 2010 Tribunal of Conscience for Women Survivors of Sexual Violence during the Armed Conflict. It seeks to clarify how local, national and transnational webs of relationships, and the speech acts and silences they simultaneously engender, inform processes of transformation from victim to survivor, or reinforce or reify victimization. The article examines the conditions under which indigenous women whose identities are deeply situated within local Mayan communities can narrate truth outside of those contexts, how the multiple spectators who are on the receiving end of those processes relate to ‘the pain of others’ and implications for future truth-telling processes.

Topics: Civil Society, Gender, Women, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, SV against women Regions: Americas, Central America Countries: Guatemala

Year: 2011

Transitional Justice and Displacement

Citation:

Duthie, Roger. 2011. “Transitional Justice and Displacement.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 5 (2): 241–61. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijr009.

Author: Roger Duthie

Abstract:

The displacement of people from their homes and communities as a result of conflict and human rights abuses is an important factor in the contexts in which transitional justice normally operates. Yet, it is one that has not figured prominently in either the literature or the practice of transitional justice. This article is an attempt to think through how transitional justice fits within the broader response to the problem of displacement. It argues that transitional justice can and should address displacement, but in doing so it must take into account and establish links with other relevant actors. The first section of the article considers some of the reasons why displacement, as a human rights issue, is of concern to transitional justice, as well as some examples of transitional justice measures that have dealt with displacement. The following two sections raise questions about the capacity of transitional justice measures meaningfully to engage displaced persons and their concerns. The next three sections then try to identify some linkages between transitional justice measures and the work of displacement actors, including potential tensions, opportunities for cooperation and coordination and avenues of mutual reinforcement. The article concludes with a broader perspective on how transitional justice may conceptually fit within a comprehensive and coherent approach to displacement.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Gender, Women, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict

Year: 2011

Questionable Associations: The Role of Forgiveness in Transitional Justice

Citation:

Saunders, Rebecca. 2011. “Questionable Associations: The Role of Forgiveness in Transitional Justice.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 5 (1): 119–41. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijr003.

Author: Rebecca Saunders

Abstract:

Forgiveness has gained surprising prominence in transitional justice circles due, in part, to the impact of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, advocacy of forgiveness by educational and social psychologists and critiques of retributive justice in critical legal studies. Drawing on philosophy, psychology, literature, legal theory and records of transitional justice in situ, this article argues that while advocates claim significant personal and social benefits derive from forgiveness, transitional justice should not consider forgiveness an a priori good or as commensurate with either reconciliation or peacebuilding. Before advocating forgiveness as a form of personal healing or social reconciliation, artisans of transitional justice mechanisms should consider that the repression of anger or resentment may be psychologically harmful and that perceived pressure to forgive may cause significant psychic distress. They should carefully consider the ways in which rhetoric or practices of forgiveness may facilitate perpetrators’ ability to do harm, teach victims to make peace with their oppression and reinforce structures of inequality.

Topics: Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2011

Towards Victim-Centred Transitional Justice: Understanding the Needs of Families of the Disappeared in Postconflict Nepal

Citation:

Robins, Simon. 2011. “Towards Victim-Centred Transitional Justice: Understanding the Needs of Families of the Disappeared in Postconflict Nepal.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 5 (1): 75–98. doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijq027.

Author: Simon Robins

Abstract:

Despite many transitional justice processes claiming to be ‘victim-centred,’ in practice they are rarely driven by the needs of those most affected by conflict. Indeed, in many contexts the views of victims are not sought by those driving the transition. In this article, the needs of a representative sample of 160 families of people disappeared during Nepal’s decade-long Maoist insurgency are studied in an effort to understand what such families seek from the transitional justice process. The study shows that victims emphasize the need for the truth about the disappeared and for economic support to help meet basic needs. Whilst families of the disappeared would welcome justice, this is not their priority. Nepal’s transitional justice process remains still-born and discussions are polarized between a human rights community that prioritizes prosecutions and a political class that seeks to avoid them. An understanding of victims’ expectations of the process can potentially break this deadlock and allow policies to be driven by the needs of those most affected.

Topics: Gender, Women, Justice, Transitional Justice, Livelihoods, Post-Conflict, Rights, Human Rights Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Nepal

Year: 2011

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