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Transitional Justice

Transitional Justice is the overall modern concept describing approaches through which societies may address massive human rights violations, mass atrocities, or other forms of severe trauma in order to restore peace and positive relations within the society. Transitional Justice is mostly applied at a point of political transition from authoritarian, dictatorial regimes to democracy or after war and civil conflict. Transitional Justice has become an almost standard approach of reconciliation and coping with the past, especially since the mid 1990ies. Until the 1980ies, only courts had been used to that end. Since the 1990ies, truth commissions were frequently established. Transitional Justice today covers not only the judiciary approach to cope with the past, but also society-wide discussions and deliberations. Transitional Justice is sometimes criticised because of its rather rigid forms, institutionalization and its strong normative content targeting a “liberal democracy”. There are also cases, in which Transitional Justice has been imposed only from abroad.

In Africa, the cases of Rwanda, South Africa and of Sierra Leone are particularly prominent examples, how Transitional Justice has been implemented in practice. In addition to these countries, there have been important instances of transitional justice in

  • Algeria (2003-2005)
  • Burundi (1993-1995)
  • Central African Republic (2003)
  • Chad (1990-1991)
  • Côte d’Ivoire (2004; 2005- )
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (2004- )
  • Ethiopia (1992- )
  • Ghana (2003-2004)
  • Liberia (2006-2008)
  • Morocco (2004-2005)
  • Nigeria (2000-2001)
  • Sudan (2005- )
  • Uganda (1986-1994; 2000- ) and
  • Zimbabwe (1985).

An overview is available online:

Last change: 04.05.10 - 10:31