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Transitional Justice


The term ‘transitional justice’ describes efforts to allow societies to come to terms with past violence so that some level of justice and reconciliation can be achieved. This infographic shows the diversity of forms of transitional justice and the complex relationship to inclusion and political stability.

Transitional Justice theme - animated thumbnail

Transitional justice refers to the range of mechanisms used to address legacies of human rights violations and violence in countries recovering from conflict or transitioning from repressive regimes.

The United Nations defines Transitional Justice as:

The full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempt to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale past abuses, in order to ensure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation.

Transitional justice measures aim to provide:
  • accountability for perpetrators in the conflict

  • social understanding of the conflict

  • agendas for institutional reform

  • reparation for victims and their families

  • national reconciliation

In peace processes there can be tension between bringing combatants into a more inclusive political settlement, and holding them accountable for human rights abuses.
Hammer with white dove and olive branch justice versus peace

In practice peace agreements often find creative ways to deliver both justice and peace.

Donut pie chart with 50% in centre 50%

(out of 1520 peace agreements between 1990-2016, 757 agreements)

Peace Agreements provide for the following issues:

Prisoner release and reconciliation provisions are the most frequent, but reconciliation provisions are often very vague.

Number of provisions by category

In practice peace agreements often find creative ways to deliver both justice and peace.

Number of provisions stages (by category)

Asset 1 Amnesty Courts Mechanisms Prisoner release Vetting Missing people Reparation Reconciliation Ceasefire Earlier stages Later stages Implementation Pre-negotiation Number of provisions Pre-negotiation Partial 600 700 500 400 300 200 100 0

Only 3% of peace agreements and 21% of peace processes include gender-specific transitional justice provisions.

Proportion of peace processes including women in transitional justice

Pie chart with 21% slice and woman 21%

The following factors affect whether women can influence transitional justice provisions:

1. Group of women with fist in the centre, 2. Hands holding a spinning globe, 3. Two people having a discussion S trength of women’s sector International support Openness of the negotiation process

Victims are often a central focus of transitional justice arrangements. Peace agreements mention different types of victimhood.

Overview of different types of victim addressed

Only 6% of peace agreements providing mechanisms to address that past contain commitments toward judicial accountability.

However, other forms of non-judicial accountability are often provided for, such as truth commissions. Often apparently opposed transitional justice mechanisms are provided together in the one peace agreement.

Venn diagram with three colour circles overlapping stroke-width="0.97"/> Amnesty 49% Courts 14% Non Judical Mechanisms 14% 5% 8% 4% 8%

Stability - accountability combinations

Percentage of peace agreements with one of the three types of provision


Parties negotiating peace agreements often try to find ways to balance a measure of accountability with a measure of stability based on inclusion of military and political leaders.

Balancing techniques include:

  • building conditions into amnesties which require ‘truth telling’

  • limiting amnesties to particular crimes

  • having forms of trial which incorporate or are supplemented by restorative justice approaches

  • providing measures such as reparations for victims, alongside forms of levels of amnesty


See publications at:

In particular: Jamar, A., & Bell, C. (2018). Transitional Justice and Peace Negotiations with a Gender Lens (Gender Briefing Series). New York City: UN Women.

Jamar, (2019) Transitional Justice and Peace Agreements Navigating Trade-Offs between Stability and Accountability, PA-X Report Transitional Justice Series, Political Settlement Research Programme.

Jamar, A. (2018). Victims’ Inclusion and Transitional Justice: Attending to the Exclusivity of Inclusion Politics (PSRP Research Report). Edinburgh: Global Justice Academy, University of Edinburgh.