Printer-friendly version Send by email PDF version

Transitional Justice

Constructing Memory amidst War: The Historical Memory Group of Colombia


Riaño Alcalá, Pilar, and María Victoria Uribe. 2016. “Constructing Memory amidst War: The Historical Memory Group of Colombia.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 10 (1): 6–24.

Authors: Pilar Riaño Alcalá, María Victoria Uribe


Between 2007 and 2013, we were part of the Historical Memory Group (GMH), a research group comprising researchers and experts working under the auspices of the National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation of Colombia. The GMH was tasked under Law 975 with producing a report on the origins and causes of the armed conflict in Colombia. Despite the dominant right-wing political context and the ongoing armed conflict, the GMH enjoyed intellectual and operative autonomy in its research. This article interrogates the dynamics and reasons that served as the basis for the GMH’s special sensitivity towards victims; the notion of victim implicit in the research work, with its inclusions and exclusions; and the dilemmas that arose in the group’s work. We argue that the GMH can be characterized as an agent of knowledge production about a violent past that was able to articulate comprehensive and plural narratives about violence in Colombia. However, this work was limited by state and institutional dynamics that sought to domesticate and instrumentalize the voices of those who had been systematically silenced. A review of the GMH’s work suggests three critical dilemmas that constrain truth-telling mechanisms: the dilemma between opening spaces for truth telling and the safety of those providing testimony; the dilemma around whose victims’ voices gain authority in the documentation process; and the risks of institutionalizing a discourse around victims that bestows narrative capital to state and societal institutions.

Keywords: Colombia, victims' discourses, historical memory, human rights discourse, plural narratives

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

Year: 2016

Women in Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Dilemmas and Directions


Cahn, Naomi. 2006. “Women in Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Dilemmas and Directions.” William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law 12 (2): 335.


Author: Naomi Cahn




A. Problems in Establishing the Post Conflict Framework

B. Problems with Post Conflict Donor Aid and Special Needs of Women


A. Deconstructing DDR Programs

B. Reconstructing DDR Programs

1. Redesigning DDR Programs with Gender Centrality

2. Reconceptualizing DDR


A. The Scope of the Problem

B. International Law and Violence Against Women

C. Additional Means of Justice

D. The Need for Domestic Reforms Regarding Women’s Rights and Status

1. Developing a Model Statute

2. Changing Existing Law

3. Implementation

a. Gender-Sensitive Support

b. Gender-Sensitive Policies within the Legal System '

4. What Difference Does It Make: Why Change Domestic Rape Laws?

E. Rape Laws and Gender Equity


Topics: DDR, Gender, Women, International Law, International Criminal Law, International Humanitarian Law IHL, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, SV against women

Year: 2006

Trying International Crimes on Local Lawns: The Adjudication of Genocide Sexual Violence Crimes in Rwanda's Gacaca Courts


Amick, Emily. 2011. “Trying International Crimes on Local Lawns: The Adjudication of Genocide Sexual Violence Crimes in Rwanda’s Gacaca Courts.” Columbia Journal of Gender & Law 20 (2).


Author: Emily Amick


During the Rwandan genocide sexual violence was used as a weapon of war to ravage a people. Women were tortured psychologically, physically and emotionally. For some women the “dark carnival” of the genocide has not ended. Living side by sidewith the men who committed violence against them, they must confront their past every day. This Article explores how, post-genocide, the country has come to adjudicate these crimes in gacaca. Gacaca is a unique method of transitional justice, one that calls upon traditional roots, bringing community members together to find the truth of what happened during the genocide and punish those who perpetrated violence. One scholar calls gacaca, “one of the boldest and most original ‘legal-social’ experiments ever attempted in the field of transitional justice.” Others, however, criticize gacaca for the impunity it grants to crimes committed by the current ruling party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and its lack of due process and nonconformance to international fair trial processes. Most authors find that, for cases of sexual violence, gacaca is a wholly unsuitable forum.

Topics: Gender, Genocide, International Law, International Criminal Law, International Organizations, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Reparations, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, SV against women, Torture, Sexual Torture Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2011

Feminist Scholarship in Transitional Justice: A de-Politicising Impulse?


O’Rourke, Catherine. 2015. “Feminist Scholarship in Transitional Justice: A de-Politicising Impulse?” Women’s Studies International Forum 51 (July): 118–27. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2014.11.003.


Author: Catherine O'Rourke


Gender and transitional justice is increasingly recognizable as a field of study in its own right. This essay identifies feminist scholarly priorities in transitional justice as, firstly, the inclusion of harms against women within the mandates of transitional justice mechanisms; secondly, the recognition of structural gender inequalities that makes women particularly vulnerable to these gender-specific harms; and finally, the participation of women in transitional justice processes and mechanisms. The essay recognises the important benefits of the coalescence of a feminist scholarly agenda in transitional justice, most notably the development of a relevant body of expertise, the ability to learn across transitional justice processes, and the growing policy traction of these scholarly priorities. The essay raises the question, however, as to whether there is a de-politicising impulse in feminist transitional justice scholarship, evidenced by a sustained reluctance to engage with the broader political dynamics that drive transitional justice in particular contexts.

Topics: Feminisms, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Justice, Transitional Justice

Year: 2015

Gender, Poverty and Violence: Transitional Justice Responses to Converging Processes of Domination of Women in Eastern DRC, Northern Uganda and Kenya


Fiske, Lucy, and Rita Shackel. 2015. “Gender, Poverty and Violence: Transitional Justice Responses to Converging Processes of Domination of Women in Eastern DRC, Northern Uganda and Kenya.” Women’s Studies International Forum 51 (July): 110–17. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2014.11.008.


Authors: Lucy Fiske, Rita Shackel


Gender, poverty and violence readily intersect in women's lives with profound impacts for women entrenching cycles of violence, disadvantage and disempowerment across women's lives in private and public domains. These effects are exacerbated in situations of armed conflict and in post-conflict societies where women are often targeted for particular types of violence, forced to enter into exploitative or abusive relationships and are routinely under-represented in key political, legal and economic decision making structures. Drawing on extensive fieldwork material we examine the complex and mutually constitutive ways in which gender, poverty and violence interact to shape the lives of women living in three conflict and post-conflict societies; eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), northern Uganda and Kenya. Finally, we consider the role of transitional justice, arguing for a more holistic approach with greater attention to gendered social and economic structures and better integration of the various mechanisms of transitional processes.

Topics: Economies, Economic Inequality, Poverty, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Justice, Transitional Justice, Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Uganda

Year: 2015

After Rape: Comparing Civilian and Combatant Perpetrated Crime in Northern Uganda


Porter, Holly E. 2015. “After Rape: Comparing Civilian and Combatant Perpetrated Crime in Northern Uganda.” Women’s Studies International Forum 51 (July): 81–90. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2014.11.005.


Author: Holly E. Porter


This article explores responses to rape in northern Uganda. The continuum of violence that women experience, before, during and after war is well noted, yet how this relates to exceptional approaches of transitional justice is underexplored. Based on three years of participant observation and in-depth interviews with a random sample of 187 women from two Acholi villages, this article focuses on a comparison between rapes perpetrated by combatants and civilians, both of which followed abductions that were intended to result in “marriage.” The comparison illustrates how experiences of rape do not fit neatly into “war” and “ordinary” categories, and rather suggests that a more useful way of conceptualizing women’'s experiences comes from understanding how particular circumstances of rape shape the social harm she suffers. It shows how experiences of rape and the harm it causes are predicated on understandings of wrongdoing related to challenges posed to social harmony.

Topics: Combatants, Justice, Transitional Justice, Sexual Violence, Rape Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2015

Transformative Gender Justice: Setting an Agenda


Boesten, Jelke, and Polly Wilding. 2015. “Transformative Gender Justice: Setting an Agenda.” Women’s Studies International Forum 51 (July): 75–80. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2014.11.001.


Authors: Jelke Boesten, Polly Wilding


Much of women’s experiences during and following periods of extensive violence are informed by pre-existing, peacetime, inequalities. The specific gendered harms suffered by women, such as sexual violence and exploitation, are grounded in understandings of gendered roles in society and the perceived links between reproduction and community. Thus, as the growing body of feminist research into processes of transitional justice show, women have vital stakes in post-conflict transformation, rather than reconstruction (Chinking and Charlesworth 2006 cited in Reilly 2007, Ní Aoláin 2012). Likewise, the (often far less visible) expectation that women sustain their caring roles in the everyday of war – providing food, shelter, and care for dependents, or soldiers, in often desperate contexts – constitutes specifically gendered experiences associated with existing inequalities and expectations (Reilly 2007). With this knowledge in mind, it is increasingly obvious that for women periods of societal transition have to aim for the transformation of the underlying inequalities that provided the conditions in which these specifically gendered harms were possible

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Justice, Transitional Justice, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

Year: 2015

Gender, Globalization, and Violence: Postcolonial Conflict Zones


Ponzanesi, Sandra. 2014. Gender, Globalization, and Violence: Postcolonial Conflict Zones. Routledge.


Author: Sandra Ponzanesi


"This wide-ranging collection of essays elaborates on some of the most pressing issues in contemporary postcolonial society in their transition from conflict and contestation to dialogue and resolution. It explores from new angles questions of violent conflict, forced migration, trafficking and deportation, human rights, citizenship, transitional justice and cosmopolitanism. The volume focuses more specifically on the gendering of violence from a postcolonial perspective as it analyses unique cases that disrupt traditional visions of violence by including the history of empire and colony, and its legacies that continue to influence present-day configurations of gender, race, nationality, class and sexuality. Part One maps out the gendered and racialized contours of conflict zones, from war zones, prisons and refugee camps to peacekeeping missions and humanitarian aid, reframing the field and establishing connections between colonial legacies and postcolonial dynamics. Part Two explores how these conflict zones are played out not just outside but also within Europe, demonstrating that multicultural Europe is fraught with different legacies of violence and postcolonial melancholia. Part Three gives an idea of the kind of future that can be offered to post-conflict societies, defined as contact zones, by exploring opportunities for dialogue, restoration and reconciliation that can be envisaged from a gendered and postcolonial perspective through alternative feminist practices and the work of art and their redemptive power in mobilizing social change or increasing national healing processes. Though strongly anchored in postcolonial critique, the chapters draw from a range of traditions and expertise, including conflict studies, gender theory, visual studies, (new) media theory, sociology, race theory, international security studies and religion studies." (From WorldCat)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Citizenship, Class, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Displacement & Migration, Forced Migration, Refugee/IDP Camps, Gender, Globalization, Humanitarian Assistance, Justice, Transitional Justice, Peacekeeping, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Race, Religion, Sexuality, Trafficking, Violence Regions: Europe

Year: 2014

Sexual Violence During War and Peace: Gender, Power, and Post-Conflict Justice in Peru


Boesten, Jelke. 2014. Sexual Violence During War and Peace: Gender, Power, and Post-Conflict Justice in Peru. New York: Palgrave Macmillan US.

Author: Jelke Boesten


Using the Peruvian internal armed conflict as a case study, this book examines wartime rape and how it reproduces and reinforces existing hierarchies. Jelke Boesten argues that effective responses to sexual violence in wartime are conditional upon profound changes in legal frameworks and practices, institutions, and society at large. (Palgrave Macmillan)


Table of Contents: 
1. Introduction
2. Sexual Violence in War
3. Sexual Violence and the Reproduction of Inequalities 
4. Transitional Justice, Truths, and Narratives of Violence 
5. Impunity 
6. Peacetime Violence
7. Sexual Violence and Post-Conflict Justice

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Gender Equality/Inequality, Justice, Impunity, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Rape Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Peru

Year: 2014

Narratives of Suffering and Endurance: Coercive Sexual Relationships, Truth Commissions and Possibilities for Gender Justice in Timor-Leste


Kent, Lia. 2014. “Narratives of Suffering and Endurance: Coercive Sexual Relationships, Truth Commissions and Possibilities for Gender Justice in Timor-Leste.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 8 (2): 289–313. doi:10.1093/ijtj/iju008.

Author: Lia Kent


This article examines the narratives of 19 East Timorese women who were coerced into sexual relationships with members of the Indonesian security forces during the 24-year Indonesian occupation. Close attention to the key themes emerging from these stories helps to deepen understandings of women’s diverse experiences of the conflict and postconflict periods, and sheds light on the gendered possibilities and limits of truth commissions. By destabilizing the therapeutic assumptions of truth commissions, these women’s narratives also assist in developing a more contextualized, locally grounded and long-term approach to the pursuit of gender justice in Timor-Leste and elsewhere.

Keywords: Timor-Leste, women's narrative, sexual violence, truth commissions, gender justice

Topics: Gender, Women, Justice, Transitional Justice, TRCs, Sexual Violence Regions: Oceania Countries: Timor-Leste

Year: 2016


© 2018 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at

Subscribe to RSS - Transitional Justice