In any transitional justice mechanism there are tradeoffs between the search for retributive justice and the practical limitations on what can be accomplished. To date, this tension has been discussed in reference to internationally established norms of justice, which the authors argue are limited in the extent to which they can explain why certain mechanisms—such as the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission or Rwanda’s gacaca courts—have been considered successful. We argue that mechanisms that have a high overlap between local culture and elements of procedural justice are perceived as more fair and just, even to those who may not benefit—or indeed may be burdened—by their operation.

Author Bio(s)

Landon E. Hancock is an assistant professor at Kent State University’s Center for Applied Conflict Management and Political Science Department. His focus is on the role of identity in conflict and conflict resolution. Recent publications include articles in Irish Political Studies (2011), Conflict Resolution Quarterly (2011) and Journal of Peace Education (2010). His most recent book, with Christopher Mitchell, is Zones of Peace, Kumarian Press, 2007. Email: lhancoc2@kent.edu.

Tamra Pearson d’Estrée is Henry R. Luce Professor of Conflict Resolution and Director, Center for Research and Practice at the Conflict Resolution Institute, University of Denver. She has written extensively on the role of social identity in conflict dynamics, judgment, decision-making, problem-solving and evaluation. Also an experienced trainer and practitioner she has conducted workshops and training sessions worldwide. Her most recent book is Braving the Currents: Evaluating conflict resolution in the river basins of the American West with Bonnie G. Colby, Kluwer, 2004. Email: Tamra.dEstree@du.edu.


local culture, procedural justice, retributive justice, Rwanda, South Africa, transitional justice

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