Justice Learning in Transition, A Grassroots Toolkit

Author: Eilish Rooney

This Working Paper explains how a local conversation about transitional justice in North Belfast became the basis for designing a toolkit that is available for use by people in other settings. The Transitional Justice Grassroots Toolkit (Rooney, 2014) is a local justice response to the immediate and over time challenges of transition from violent conflict in disadvantaged communities. The article makes a contribution to a growing interest in grassroots activism within transitional justice and development studies and feminist praxis. Grassroots activism is not unique to life in marginalized areas of North Belfast. It arises informally in troubled circumstances and communities everywhere. It empowers the people concerned and helps to improve life in the places where it is organized and supported. The forms of social change it involves cannot be imposed by outside agencies or temporary projects however well meaning. It is community ‘change from within’ (Collier, 2007:12). As such, local activism is of interest to policy makers, academics and organizations concerned with well-being and stability in troubled and fragile states. Local action can be supported and made visible. In this article, I argue that the toolkit offers a way to do this. It treats transitional justice as a useful framework for reflection, dialogue and action. The community experiences and life knowledge that toolkit users draw on is the starting point and core resource.