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Transitional Justice in Post-Euromaidan Ukraine

Swimming Upstream


Igor Lyubashenko

The book focusses on transitional justice policies implemented in Ukraine since the beginning of 2014. The author covers investigations and trials, vetting, historical justice, as well as two issues that only partially refer to the «transitional justice toolbox»: attempts to deal with the consequences of the armed conflict in Donbas and elements of institutional reforms that supplement transitional justice efforts. He explains constrains faced by each of the mentioned policies and interrelationships between them. The author comes to the conclusion that the Ukrainian case presents both similarities and significant differences in comparison to other post-communist countries, which implemented such policies much earlier. Furthermore, there is no evidence supporting the thesis that the implementation of these policies provides visible effects in terms of democratisation of the country.

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6. Institutional reforms and constitutional amendments


6.1. Theoretical background

As mentioned at the beginning of the book, transitional justice policies, despite their predominantly retrospective nature, inevitably have a significant impact on the present and the future. Dealing with the “bad” legacy of the ancien regime is undoubtedly not an “art for the sake of art”. It is especially evident in the case of political regimes declaring that their “normative anchor” is associated with democracy. Taking into account that violence and human rights abuses may have a structural nature, one should assume that transitional justice policies that act at the individual level (investigations and trials) may not be sufficient to eliminate the possibility that repressive institutions will automatically switch into the mode of functioning typical for democratic political systems. Some transitional justice policies, first and foremost vetting, have a strong impact not only on the affected individuals but also on the institutions as a whole. Therefore, they should be regarded as an element of institutional reform that goes beyond transitional justice in a narrow sense.1 Indeed, as Alexander Mayer-Rieckh notes, “the multi-dimensional nature of the transitional reform challenge makes it generally necessary to complement vetting with other institutional reform measures and requires a holistic and coherent approach to institutional reform that may entail a complex, resource-intensive and lengthy process”.2

In other words, the literature suggests that getting rid of “bad social capital” as a result of vetting policies should be followed by a change within the structure and basic rules...

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