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The Legacy of Crimes and Crises

Transitional Justice, Domestic Change and the Role of the International Community


Edited By Klaus Bachmann and Dorota Heidrich

The book shows how transitional justice experiences influence domestic change and what the role of the international community in these processes is. It is divided into three thematic parts. The first one presents regional and local transitional justice efforts, aiming at showing different mechanisms implemented within transitional justice mechanisms. The following part deals with the role and impact of international criminal tribunals set up to prosecute grave human rights abuses. The third part is devoted to the role of the international community in mass atrocity crimes prevention. The contributions prove that transitional justice measures are not universal. Rather, they must be characterized by the principle of local ownership and be crafted to circumstances on the ground.
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Anna Grzywacz - Transitional Justice in East Timor: Timorese Political Pragmatism and its Effectiveness


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Anna Grzywacz

Transitional Justice in East Timor: Timorese Political Pragmatism and Its Effectiveness

The issue of transitional justice in East Timor has been widely described in the literature.1 However, much of this literature focuses on the effectiveness of the solutions proposed by the UN, criticism of the organization or analysis of how this institution’s solutions were questioned by society, and how the government of East Timor introduced its own solutions and standards to reconstruct the state and nation. In the theoretical discussion about transitional justice, several approaches clash with each other: the conviction about the existence of certain universal tools and mechanisms that can be applied to almost any transition is confronted with the frequent beliefs of local actors, according to whom every situation needs a unique approach in order to lead to positive results on the ground. This clash is reflected in the current debate about top-down judicial intervention by the International Criminal Court versus bottom-up initiatives; and it often overlaps with the cleavage between supporters of restorative versus retributive justice, as set out in the Patrick Wegner’s chapter about Uganda in this book. There also is a lawyer-driven strand in transitional justice, which argues in favour of certain norms and values that should be universally applied and which is confronted by a more anthropological way of thinking (supported by many political scientists), which sees the purpose of transitional justice not in the necessity to strengthen universal norms and values, but in...

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