The Potential Role of Transnational Justice in Active Conflicts

Date(s) of Conference:

November 13-15, 2011


Hebrew University of Jerusalem


An important and relatively underexplored aspect of transitional justice is the role that transitional justice mechanisms can play when the conflict, or situation of pervasive human rights violations, is still active and ongoing. This conference will therefore focus on the questions that arise in these scenarios. These questions include, but are not limited to, the following:

Can transition be effective before the traumatic events have ended? Are there conditions in which mechanisms of transitional justice can make a positive contribution to the cessation of violence and human rights infringements? Can state-led transitional justice mechanisms be formed during ongoing conflict, or will lack of political will, economic conditions, and the need to prioritize other objectives such as security, make any efforts in this direction ineffective? Empirically, what lessons can be learned from cases in which transitional justice was pursued while the guns were not yet silent, such as in the ICTY, or in the International Criminal Court’s intervention in the situation in Darfur? In longstanding conflicts, especially in those that are considered ‘intractable’, waiting for “post-conflict” stability might delay indefinitely the positive effects of transitional justice mechanisms; but would implementation of such mechanisms before stability has been attained be productive, futile, or perhaps even counterproductive? Are certain transitional justice mechanisms more suitable for application to ongoing conflicts? What about informal, as opposed to state-led, processes? And are certain regime-types – such as democracies – more, or less, amenable to transitional justice processes during active conflict? Transitional justice is sometimes exposed to the criticism that it is implemented selectively, as the ‘justice of the victors’; could embarking upon the path of transitional justice when there are no victors yet better legitimize the process? And specifically in our local context – can transitional justice mechanisms assist in reaching greater reconciliation and coexistence between Israeli Jews and Arabs? And could such mechanisms even facilitate the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

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