Transitional Justice

Transitional Justice (TJ) after wars, dictatorships and serious human rights violations in a country or in a region can influence the regime change and change of political systems in the long term. This is a long-term process and consists of a multitude of historical, legal, political or social instruments, mechanisms and procedures used by different actors to change the regime. Victims and perpetrators, governments as well as civil society use TJ measures for their respective political objectives. Litigation, reparations, lustration processes, truth commissions, and even amnesty law can contribute to the building of democracies. TJ mechanisms usually accompany a long-term transitional process from an injustice to a constitutional state. The Center advises various organizations and institutions on these mechanisms and processes.

Activities on Transitional Justice

Event Series: Transitional Justice | Winter 2015- Spring 2016

The focus of the series was the critical reflection of past injustices. In cooperation with the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship, the German Institute for Human Rights (DIMR) and the Foundation EVZ (Stiftung Erinnerung Verantwortung Zukunft), international experts and practitioners were invited.

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[+] Publication: "Regime Consolidation and Transitional Justice, The case studies of Germany, Spain and Turkey"

The study “Regime Consolidation and Transitional Justice” explores the effect of transitional justice measures on ‘regime consolidation’, or the means by which a new political system is established in a post-transition context. Focusing on the long-term impact of transitional justice mechanisms in three countries over several decades, the gradual process by which these political systems have been legitimatised is revealed. Through case studies of East and West Germany after World War II, Spain after the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975 and Turkey’s long journey to achieving democratic reform, Regime Consolidation and Transitional Justice shows how transitional justice and regime consolidation are intertwined. The interdisciplinary study, which will be of interest to scholars of criminal law, human rights law, political science, democracy, autocracies and transformation theories, demonstrates, importantly, that the political systems in question are not always ‘more’ democratic than their predecessors and do not always enhance democracy post-regime consolidation.

Author: Anja Mihr, Center on Governance through Human Rights, Humboldt-Viadrina Governance Platform

Find out more here.

[+] Interview: “The difficult processing of Human Rights violations”

Transitional justice: At first, the past of a state marked by serious human rights violations, was only worked out nationally and legally. In the meantime, an international normative framework has emerged, which is also established at the United Nations.

One of the first cases in which the now common concept of transitional adjustment was applied was Argentina. In the 1980s, the military junta, after losing the war over the Falkland Islands against Great Britain, collapsed. Rainer Huhle from the Nuremberg Human Rights Center explains that the country succeeded in successively, albeit very alternating, phases of Transitional Justice.

“In Argentina, for example, there was a very successful first phase, where at least the top military was accused and sentenced. Then there was a phase where this was almost completely reversed. And then there was a third phase in which many more legal proceedings are taking place, but where more efforts have been made to find truth and to find means of compensation. “(…)

The entire interview by Anja Mihr on Transitional Justice and the difficult processing of human rights violations with the Deutschlandfunk can be read here (in German).