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Transitional Justice

Remembering Violence, Negotiating Change: The Moroccan Equity and Reconciliation Commission and the Politics of Gender


Dennerlein, Bettina. 2012. “Remembering Violence, Negotiating Change: The Moroccan Equity and Reconciliation Commission and the Politics of Gender.” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 8 (1): 10-36.

Author: Bettina Dennerlein


This paper focuses on competing appropriations of international women's rights standards in the framework of the Moroccan Equity and Reconciliation Commission (ERC) and its follow-up projects. I argue that, even if the ERC's gender approach has been introduced as part of international models of transitional justice, it is geared toward earlier women's rights and human rights activism, as well as to established state practices of at least selectively supporting women's rights. Like political reform in general, the ERC and its gender approach are an outcome of internal, long-time dynamics of change. Within the ERC's politics of gender, there exists a tendency to depoliticize women's rights activism in the process of reconciliation by making women a target for welfare measures and "human development." Yet, at the same time, the officially recognized gender approach also allows for strategies to broaden the basis for women's rights activism by making women's experiences of violence during the "Years of Lead" (the period of fierce repression under the rule of Hassan II), an issue of concern in the framework of its new politics of memory. The implementation of the ERC's gender approach can be interpreted as an example of how women's rights activism may be able to push its agenda while adjusting to both transnational discourses and national politics.

Topics: Development, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Governance, Post-conflict Governance, Justice, Transitional Justice, TRCs, Peacebuilding, Political Participation, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa Countries: Morocco

Year: 2012

Gender, Masculinities, and Transition in Conflicted Societies


Cahn, Naomi, and Fionnuala Ni Aolain. 2009. “Gender, Masculinities, and Transition in Conflicted Societies.” New England Law Review 44: 101-22.

Authors: Naomi Cahn, Fionnuala Ni Aolain


This article uses a gender lens to explore how conflict affects men and women differently. It examines issues related to the emergence of certain kinds of “hyper” masculinity in situations of conflict and how such masculinities continue to function in subsequent peace-building attempts. The article argues that a failure to account for and be cognizant of these specific masculinities has a significant effect for women in particular, and, more generally, on the success of the conflict transition process. Finally, we show how using a gender lens could make a difference by considering the specific example of the impact of violent masculinities on disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programs.

Topics: Armed Conflict, DDR, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Justice, Transitional Justice, Peacebuilding

Year: 2009

Gender, Responsibility, and the Grey Zone: Considerations for Transitional Justice


Baines, Erin. 2011. “Gender, Responsibility, and the Grey Zone: Considerations for Transitional Justice.” Journal of Human Rights 10 (4): 477-93.

Author: Erin Baines


The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has forcibly recruited tens of thousands of youth from northern Uganda, Southern Sudan, and more presently the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. The longer that abducted youth spend inside the armed group, the more likely they will assume positions of command. These roles are differentiated on the basis of sex and gender expectations: young men are more likely to become active combatants and young women are more likely to become forced “wives” and mothers. As a result, forcibly recruited male and female youth are assumed to hold different degrees of responsibility. Comparing the life stories of an abducted male and female youth who became LRA commanders, I argue that each made choices within a state of coerced militarized masculinity. The question of responsibility must be located in the context of a present-day grey zone, and must unsettle gendered assumptions about men and women, and guilt and innocence. Transitional justice has only begun to grapple with the ambiguity of gender, responsibility, and the grey zone.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Justice, Transitional Justice, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Uganda

Year: 2011

Advancing Feminist Positioning in the Field of Transitional Justice


Aolain, Fionnuala Ni. 2012. “Advancing Feminist Positioning in the Field of Transitional Justice.” The International Journal of Transitional Justice 6: 205-228.

Author: Fionnuala Ni Aolain


This article contributes to an ongoing conversation among feminist scholars about what constitutes feminist positioning with regard to the central issues that define transitions from conflict or repression towards more liberal polities. The analysis suggests that the feminist presence in transitional justice is complex, multilayered and still in the process of full engagement. Concentrating on the genealogy of this presence, the article reflects on what are commonly invoked scholarly and policy reference points, showing how little gender analysis and women’s issues entered into the discursive fray in the public and political arenas where the terminology of accountability emerged. The challenge in assessing feminist positioning is that an uncritical and narrowly liberal conception of gender equality directs our gaze away from the cultural, material and geopolitical sites in which transitional justice practices have emerged. The article explores the connections between transitional justice and identification of harms done to women, the importance of acknowledging these harms and the need to centre discussions of agency and autonomy in feminist approaches to structural political change in deeply divided societies.

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Analysis, Gendered Power Relations, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict

Year: 2012

Widows and Community Based Transitional Justice in Post Genocide Rwanda


Tobin, Angela. 2012. "Widows and Community Based Transitional Justice in Post Genocide Rwanda." British Journal of Community Justice 10 (1): 27-39.

Author: Angela Tobin


After decades of cycles of violence between Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda, 1994 witnessed genocide more effective than Hitler's gas chambers (Carlsson, 2005) costing the lives of estimates between 500,000 (Desforges, 1999) to one million people (Gourevitch, 1998). The way communities and families killed neighbours and relatives has been documented by many. In light of the localised nature of this conflict, this contribution suggests that the community should be involved in the delivery of justice as part of an effort to repair the social bonds that were damaged. This article will focus on women's relationship to transitional justice in the aftermath of the conflict. The role of community-based organisations and the support they provided to widows of the conflict will be considered. Widows have been selected as the focal point as they represent a distinctive group: they must contend with gender-specific challenges in the wake of their loss and adapt to become responsible for tasks which they previously depended on male relatives to complete. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and Gacaca, the formal judicial and quasi judicial models developed to aid all concerned with the means to face what had happened in order to live together peacefully, have been subject to much criticism; these will be discussed. The article will draw on empirical research exploring community-based projects that were supported by a women's charity, established to support widows and orphans in the aftermath of the genocide. Their efforts will be presented as an efficient and effective strategy of transitional justice, due to its location in the community.

Topics: Civil Society, Gender, Women, Genocide, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Transitional Justice, NGOs, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2012

Masculinity and Transitional Justice: An Exploratory Essay


Hamber, Brandon. 2007. "Masculinity and Transitional Justice: An Exploratory Essay." The International Journal of Transitional Justice, no. 1, 375-390.

Author: Brandon Hamber


In recent years, there has been a growing focus on including women in transitional justice processes. Some scholars question whether transitional justice mechanisms take obstacles for women, such as ongoing domestic violence, into account. This article follows this line of inquiry using the prism of ongoing violence against women in South Africa. It focuses on masculinity, and questions the degree to which masculinity, and violent masculinities in particular, are considered in transitional justice studies. The article calls for a nuanced understanding of masculinities and their relationship to transitional justice, and sets parameters for a more concerted study of the subject. 

Topics: Domestic Violence, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Justice, Transitional Justice Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2007

Gendered Subjects of Transitional Justice


Franke, Katherine M. 2006. "Gendered Subjects of Transitional Justice." Colombia Journal of Gender and Law 15 (3): 813-28. 

Author: Katherine M. Franke

Topics: Gender, Women, Justice, Transitional Justice

Year: 2006

Gender and Transitional Justice in Africa: Progress and Prospects


Scanlon, Helen, and Kelli Muddell. 2009. “Gender and Transitional Justice in Africa: Progress and Prospects.” African Journal on Conflict Resolution 9 (2): 9-28.

Authors: Helen Scanlon , Kelli Muddell


During the past few decades, different models of transitional justice (TJ) have developed throughout Africa to try to address the mass human rights abuses that have occurred during conflicts. These mechanisms, both judicial and nonjudicial, have often failed to adequately tackle the extensive gender-based violence that has been prevalent on the continent. This article examines the ways truth commissions, legal mechanisms, reparations, security sector reform efforts, and traditional mechanisms in Africa have dealt with gender-based human rights violations. While recent African TJ mechanisms have been innovative in developing means to address crimes against women, these mechanisms continue to fail victims. This is in large part because the current discourse on gender and transitional justice needs to be broadened to better address women’s experiences of conflict. Future TJ initiatives need to re-examine the types of violations prioritised, and recognise the continuum of violence that exists in pre-conflict and post-conflict societies. It is also important to challenge the transitional justice field to stop reducing sexual-based violence to ‘women’s problems’, and explore how men are affected by the gendered dynamics of conflict.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Reparations, Transitional Justice, TRCs, Post-Conflict, Rights, Human Rights, Security Sector Reform, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa

Year: 2009

Transitional Justice as Global Project: Critical Reflections


Nagy, Rosemary. 2008. "Transitional Justice as Global Project: Critical Reflections." Third World Quarterly 29 (2): 275-89.

Author: Rosemary Nagy


This article critically reflects on the ways in which the global project of transitional justice is channelled or streamlined in its scope of application. Using the categories of when, to whom and for what transitional justice applies, it argues that transitional justice is typically constructed to focus on specific sets of actors for specific sets of crimes. This results in a fairly narrow interpretation of violence within a somewhat artificial time frame and to the exclusion of external actors. This article engages themes of gender, power, and structural violence to caution against the narrowing and depoliticisation of transitional justice.

Topics: Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Justice, Transitional Justice, Violence

Year: 2008

Narrative and Truth: a Feminist Critique of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission


Kashyap, Rina. 2009. Narrative and Truth: A Feminist Critique of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Contemporary Justice Review 12 (4): 449-467.

Author: Rina Kashyap

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Justice, Transitional Justice, TRCs, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Race Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2009


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