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Transitional Justice: A Colonizing Field?


Stephanie Vieille

Human Rights Adviser and Researcher, CA
About Stephanie
Dr. Stephanie Vieille has pursued higher education in both Europe and Canada where she obtained a PhD in Political Science. She has conducted research and fieldwork on customary mechanisms of justice in Africa and New Zealand. She has published in internationally respected journals such as Human Rights Review, the International Indigenous Policy Journal and Contemporary Justice Review.
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Throughout its development, the transitional justice scholarship has favored the use and implementation of specific judicial institutions, including courts and tribunals, to carry out justice and hold individuals accountable in the aftermath of mass violations of human rights. These institutions, I argue, are rooted in a neo-liberal framework that sanctions the rule of law and a certain understanding the nature of law and justice. The transitional justice literature is informed by certain assumptions about the ‘goodness’ and ‘neutrality’ of the rule of law, which it blindly exports. I contend that the unquestioned promotion of the rule of law at the international level is concerning vis-a-vis the feasibility and applicability of the judicial arrangements that are transplanted to a variety of contexts. The universalizing tendency of the legalist paradigm that underlies the transitional justice scholarship and practitioners dictates the kinds of activities that are undertaken in transitional societies.

How to Cite: Vieille, S., 2012. Transitional Justice: A Colonizing Field?. Amsterdam Law Forum, 4(3), pp.58–68. DOI:
Published on 01 Jun 2012.
Peer Reviewed


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