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Transitional Justice

Not Offered this year 2015-2016
Last offered in 2010-2011

This seminar focuses on transitional law and justice, and especially on the meaning, causes, and consequences of "reconciliation." As such, the course considers how the past can set limits on the possibilities for peace and for any possible transition to democratic governance. Several key questions guide the seminar: What is reconciliation? Under what conditions does truth - understanding the past - contribute to reconciliation? Under what conditions, if any, and via what types of legal and political institutions, can the injustices of the past be overcome? What specific processes lead to reconciliation? Do trials contribute to successful transitions? How can the retributive justice deficit created by amnesties be overcome? What connections exist between reconciliation and successful democratization? What accounts for the variability of transitional justice institutions in bringing about successful democratization? Because the South Africans have been the most successful nation in the world in using a truth commission to promote reconciliation and democratization, considerable attention is given in this course to that country's transition from the apartheid system to the most successful democracy in Africa.