Issues Home About Contact Us Issue 18 - July 2019 عربى
Terminology Corner
Transitional justice

generally refers to a range of approaches that States may use to address past human rights violations, including both judicial and nonjudicial approaches. TJ is composed of a series of actions or policies and their resulting institutions, which may be enacted at a point of political transition from violence and repression to social and political stability. Transitional justice is informed by a society’s collective desire to rebuild social trust, repair a fractured justice system, and build a democratic system of governance. The core value of transitional justice is the notion of justice. This notion is not necessarily, nor limited to criminal justice, but may other forms of justice as well. This notion and the political transformation, such as regime change or transition from conflict, are thus linked toward a more peaceful, certain and democratic future.

TJ can feature a combination of five classic steps and measures categorized as:

  1. Preservation of memory of the events, documentation and evidence;
  2. Accountability of perpetrators;
  3. Reparation of victims;
  4. Institutional reform;
  5. Reconciliation.

Some common strategies involve the formation and use of:

  • Prosecutions before domestic, international or hybrid/mixed tribunals and/or special chambers;
  • Compensations and various kinds of rehabilitation, resettlement, restitution, consistent with the definition of reparations.
  • Truth-seeking and/or truth commissions, as nonjudicial bodies of inquiry that aim to discover and reveal past abuses;
  • Memory and Memorials to preserve memories of events and honor the people who have suffered;
  • Apologies (with or without prosecution and other forms of reparation for victims);
  • Regulation of private or, especially,  public bodies, including the police, military and/or judiciary, identified as having caused repression and other human rights violations. Such reforms could involve structural transformation, vetting or lustration of personnel, and/or legal reform. However, purges, collective punishment or generally assigning guilt by association are not considered effective practices achieving;
  • Conflict resolution and management, including negotiation and dialogue techniques.


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