The Aftermath of Atrocity: A Course on Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction
Full course description
The course will first introduce and define the field of transitional justice. We will look into its historical evolution and address the rationales underlying it. The introduction furthermore includes an overview of the main mechanisms/components that can be part of the process of transitional justice and how they are interrelated.The course will subsequently address several of these transitional justice mechanisms and in this analysis we will predominantly focus on the perspectives of the victims. Victims (and survivors) are not only a group, but also individual human beings and their wishes and interests in the aftermath of large scale conflict can be very diverse and even contradict the wishes of other victims or the group as such. What are their interests and what are their views on transitional justice including possibilities of remedy and reparation? In this context specific attention is given to the impact of violent conflict on women and children.
Throughout the course critical attention is paid to the following justice mechanisms: apologies and forgiveness, memorialization and commemoration, truth telling and truth commissions, pardons and amnesties, compensation, restoration, restitution, international and regional criminal courts and tribunals, lustration and vetting. The analysis will be concluded with a discussion of the various justice mechanisms and their potential to contribute to (or jeopardize) sustainable peace. How effective are these approaches in breaking cycles of violence? Can they bring reconciliation?
In addition to issues such as justice and reconciliation, other matters are also significant in post-conflict societies as they greatly affect the consolidation of peace and stability. Justice and reconciliation only form one pillar of reconstruction, but also in other areas constructive action is required. Such other areas of concern include, for instance, security, wellbeing, and governance. The course therefore looks into the process of reconstruction and discusses which actions are required in order to move from the precarious early stages of post conflict transition to a more sustainable situation which allows for the consolidation of peace and stability.
Several lectures will be held during this course. These lectures will be used to illustrate the discussed materials and to provide the participants with a deeper understanding of the subject matter by presenting the linkage between theory and (research) practice. During the lectures, various guest speakers will address the subject matter from the practitioner’s perspective. In addition, we will screen a number of documentaries that will be analyzed during the post-discussion. We hope that, through these documentaries, the subject matter of this course will become more accessible and less abstract.
Case studies play an important role throughout the course and we will therefore pay attention to a wide variety of cases including The Holocaust and other cases of genocide (Armenia, Australia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Srebrenica, Darfur, etc.). Although cases of genocide will play an important role in this course, the caseload is certainly not limited to genocide and other violent conflicts will be addressed as well. Here one could think of the following cases, Chili, Argentina, Guatemala, Indonesia, East Timor, Iraq, Syria, Congo, Central African Republic, etc. Not to forget the torture practices of the U.S.
- An understanding of transitional justice and how to deal with grave historical injustices from the past. Although the course addresses the roles of many different actors, the role of the victim will receive more substantial attention.
- To examine different approaches to post-conflict justice (retributive, restorative and transformative approaches) and their policy implications.
- To provide for a critical overview of different instruments for transitional justice, such as, apologies and forgiveness, memorialization and commemoration, truth telling and truth commissions, impunity, pardons and amnesties, compensation, restoration, restitution of property (especially looted and stolen art), international and regional criminal courts and tribunals, lustration and vetting, etc. and to examine their impact and effectiveness.
- An understanding of issues in post-conflict reconstruction which focuses on the challenges (military, political, and social) that post-conflict societies are facing and how they impact on the consolidation of peace and stability.
Two 2000-level courses in the Social Sciences or Humanities.
- Handbook (t.b.a)