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Transitional Justice: the socio-economic dimension

Contacts: Professor Rory O'Connell, Dr Deborah Magill, Dr Anne Smith, Dr Gina Bekker, Dr Alice Diver, Dr Jacinta Miller, Dr Khanyisela Moyo

Funder: Ulster University Research Challenge Fund

The research is premised on the view that questions of socio-economic injustice frequently combined with structural inequality are a fundamental feature in the two paradigmatic instances of transitional justice problematic (transitions from conflict and transitions from authoritarian rule) as illustrated in cases like Northern Ireland, South Africa, Nepal or Colombia. Despite this, transitional justice mechanisms (truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence) have typically focused on issues affecting civil and political rights and public policies in these areas. Transitional justice has dealt primarily with questions of accountability (judicial or otherwise) for past massive human rights violations; typically these have included questions of extra-judicial execution, torture, abuse of police power, disappearances. The mechanisms proposed for dealing with such violations have included judicial accountability (national or international) but also other mechanisms such as truth commissions and reparations. The research is all the more pressing as transitional societies are frequently grappling with economic and social challenges, challenges which are difficult even long after the more obvious forms of violence and abuse have ceased.

Researchers and practitioners have though placed less attention on the need to consider aspects of socioeconomic injustice, root causes of conflict or repression, violations of economic and social rights, and on how to address them in the context of transitional justice. This project considers 1) How best to articulate the field of transitional justice and these pressing social issues; 2) How best to articulate transitional justice mechanisms with wider policy oriented agendas that could enhance the potential of transitional justice as a field to have an impact on socio-economic injustice and structural inequalities.