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Chapter 1 argues that while transitional justice has become a globally dominant lens through which to approach states addressing legacies of a violent past the performance and impact of transitional justice mechanisms has been at best ambiguous and at times disappointing. The chapter proposes a new agenda for theory and practice, one that offers a concept of justice that is more ‘transformative’ than ‘transitional.’ The chapter starts by setting out the limitations of transitional justice, and recent responses to these limitations in transitional justice scholarship and practice. A definition of transformative justice draws on this discussion as well as insights from related fields such as peacebuilding and conflict transformation. A final section of the chapter, on tools for transformative justice, provides practical guidance on how to implement a more transformative transitional justice.
The introduction starts from the position that transitional justice is in crisis. Core elements of the paradigm have been subjected to sustained critique, yet as is often the case there is much less commentary that goes beyond critique to set out in a comprehensive fashion what an alternative approach might look like. This introduction and volume discusses one such alternative: transformative justice. The introduction places this quest in the wider context of ongoing fall-out from the 2008 global economic and political crisis, and the failure of social justice advocates to respond with imagination and ambition. The introduction unpacks the proposed alternative by addressing four questions – Given that alternatives can perform various functions, does transformative justice seek to replace or reform transitional justice? How should transformative justice engage with the state and state institutions? Is its main focus on the past, and redress for the past, or does it adopt a different temporal register? How can a complex, holistic agenda be delivered in practice? The introduction represents a call for imagination and ambition at both micro- and macro-levels in response to the limitations of transitional justice and the challenges of the current political moment.
Transitional justice has become the principle lens used by countries emerging from conflict and authoritarian rule to address the legacies of violence and serious human rights abuses. However, as transitional justice practice becomes more institutionalized with support from NGOs and funding from Western donors, questions have been raised about the long-term effectiveness of transitional justice mechanisms. Core elements of the paradigm have been subjected to sustained critique, yet there is much less commentary that goes beyond critique to set out, in a comprehensive fashion, what an alternative approach might look like. This volume discusses one such alternative, transformative justice, and positions this quest in the wider context of ongoing fall-out from the 2008 global economic and political crisis, as well as the failure of social justice advocates to respond with imagination and ambition. Drawing on diverse perspectives, contributors illustrate the wide-ranging purchase of transformative justice at both conceptual and empirical levels.