Contending with the Past: Transitional Justice and Political Settlement Processes


This chapter addresses the difficulties in designing and implementing transitional justice in societies attempting to move on from conflict. It does so in part to show how transitional justice mechanisms in transitions from conflict differ from those in transitions from authoritarianism, particularly with regard to the strategic choices that are involved. The author argues that transitional justice in post-conflict settings needs to be understood as part of the broader political settlement process in which domestic and international actors are engaged. This process attempts to (re)construct the state to reconfigure how power is held and exercised so as to include previously excluded actors and groups in ways that will end violent conflict. Centrally, peace processes involve negotiations between states and their non-state opponents, with a view to including the latter in new or revised state structures. Political bargaining occurs through both formal, usually elite-level, talks and other less visible informal processes.

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