Good Fences Make Good Neighbours: Assessing the Role of Consociational Politics in...


Authors: Kris Brown and Fionnuala Ní Aoláin

This working paper reflects on the relationship of transitional justice theory and practice with consociational theory, examining how both interact with respect to enabling or limiting conflict transformation in deeply divided ethnic polities. The paper explores the ways in which, despite substantive acknowledgement of the limits of consociationalism, it continues to be the preferred solution offered by internationally and bilaterally mediated peace negotiations as a means to address the governance crisis of deeply divided societies. In the paper the authors analyse the synergies and dissonances of how transitional justice and consociationalism support and undermine each other, offering suggestions for how both could be better addressed, and examining how transitional justice interacts with different forms of power-sharing.

Policy points:
• Transitional justice can complement consociationalism by getting at the local where it does not.
• Transitional justice has a narrative sensitivity that the institution focused consociationalism has not.
• Transitional justice can help co-existence and may defuse myths while still allowing spaces for intersectional voices and unheard stories.
• There is need for realistic expectations. Settings are difficult.