Transitional Justice: Prioritizing Truth Commissions or International Tribunals to Ensure Healing and Reconciliation

Jappah, Jlateh Vincent; Smith, Danielle Taana
November 2013
Journal of International & Global Studies;Nov2013, Vol. 5 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
Case Study
There is a recent increased examination of the effects of international funding for truth commissions and criminal tribunals in post-conflict societies as they transition to peace. The discourse on whether to prioritize truth commissions or international criminal tribunals and which form of transitional justice more effectively fosters healing and reconciliation continues to be highly polemical. This paper explores whether, in terms of post-conflict healing and reconciliation, international funding would be better spent on truth commissions than on international criminal tribunals or vice versa. It examines the complexities and heterogeneity of transitional societies and suggests that international funding for transitional justice should be less rigid and prescriptive. A victim-centric approach that takes into account practical realities on the ground should be the driving force behind the decision to fund particular forms of transitional justice. In the paper, first, theories of healing and reconciliation are conceptualized. Second, three case studies involving truth commissions are presented and analyzed. Third, through the lens of competing arguments on the role of prosecution in terms of healing, reconciliation, and deterrence, additional country cases involving recent hot-spots are dissected. Based on the examination of the unique characteristics of these examples of post-conflict societies, the paper argues that international funding should be based on wide-ranging factors that are country specific.


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