CfP: Transitions from Violence. The Impact of Transitional Justice

Transitional Justice (TJ) refers to processes of dealing with the aftermath of violent conflicts and human rights abuses in order to provide for a peaceful future. It makes use of a number of different instruments and mechanisms, including national and international tribunals, truth commissions, memory work, reparations and institutional reforms, which aim at uncovering the truth about past crimes, putting past wrongs right, holding perpetrators accountable, vindicating the dignity of victims-survivors and contributing to reconciliation. In regard to its temporal focus, TJ is at one and the same time oriented towards the past, present and future. As a past-oriented practice, TJ addresses wrongs that have been committed during a conflict. As a present-oriented practice, it establishes a new ethical and institutional framework. And, through this, it seeks to prevent the future occurrence of gross injustices and violence. The concept of TJ has acquired a central place in transitional and democratic discourses, as well as in political, sociological and legal academic research.

With a number if TJ instruments being in place since the mid-1980s, and an significant increase since the 1990s, it is now possible to expand academic analysis from the modalities of their operation to their impact on the affected societies. With a temporal distance of five to seven years or more since the ending of some of the mechanisms this Special Issues is concerned with the question if and how transitional justice mechanisms live up to the high expectations placed into them by various agents including, inter alia, human rights groups, victims associations, new governments, international organisations or international donors. In particular, we invite contributions which evaluate the social, political and legal impact of the following objectives of transitional justice:

  • – establishing the truth about the past
  • – holding perpetrators accountable
  • – vindicating the dignity of victims
  • – improve community relations in divided societies
  • – contributing to national reconciliation and nation-building
  • – preventing future violence
  • – establishing the rule of law and supporting democratisation

The objective of this Special Issue is to critically assess the actual potential of transitional justice, what achievements have been realised thus far, whether there are conflicting goals and which inherent or external obstacles limit its influence and reach. Through empirical case studies from across the globe we endeavour to paint a diverse picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the approach.

Since research on transitional justice is spread across a large variety of disciplines including sociology, politics, legal studies, history, anthropology, gender studies etc. we welcome contributions that combine different approaches. Moreover, given that the possibility of measuring impact is highly contested we invite contributors to reflect critically on the methodologies of their empirical research and the limits of their findings.

The International Journal for Conflict and Violence (IJCV) is a forum for scientific exchange and public dissemination of up-to-date scientific knowledge on conflict and violence.

The deadline for submission is 31st July 2011. Papers should be 40.000 characters (incl. spaces) on length. For further information on formal aspects and review criteria please visit the journal’s website http://www.ijcv.org .

Please send your manuscript to transitional-justice@staff.uni-marburg.de by 31st July 2011.
Thorsten Bonacker / Susanne Buckley-Zistel, Center for Conflict Studies, University of Marburg, Germany

Carnita Ernest, Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Cape Town, South Africa