In the last couple decades, transitional justice has now been looked at as more of a way of intervening through legal forms, after times of corruptions and war in an area. It is seen as an attempt to repair the wrongs of the past in hopes to provide a better future of an area with less violence and to also help heal those that suffered from previous repression. Transitional justice, as I see it, is supposed to be a helpful tool in recovery after harsh times of civil war or injustice among people, however, problems are occurring within it that seem to be causing more harm than good to the people being “helped”. One issue with it is the challenge of localization and how one determines what is local or not and how to go about discussing the past with the “locals”. This is brought up in the introduction of Localizing Transitional Justice by Rosalind Shaw and Lars Waldorf, where they point out how the most common way to reach out and help with transitional justice is now through hearing the “local voice” by getting out into the community and talking to the people (Shaw, Waldorf 2010). This poses as difficult though because who is to say which way of talking to or being heard by the locals is correct in that area, or who exactly is considered a local, and is this actually reaching out to them or is it simply just a part of the governmental agenda that needs data? As an example of transitional justice, I found the civil war in Liberia to be one of interest. After what had claimed to be two different wars from 1989 to 1997 and then 1999 to 2003, Liberia was much turmoil because of selfish rulers who were seizing the government and taking over great power while in turn allowing the economy to collapse and displacing the people in the country. After one ruler causing so much damage but then being executed, the country was left in terror and many people fled as refugees to other neighboring countries. When a new president was elected though, the terror continued because of his support of rebel groups, involvement with war crimes, and other infractions on human rights. Finally in 2003 the United States and the UN were summoned in to help the country and the crisis came to an end. In terms of recovery, Liberia has had to undergo transitional justice which included implementing workshops, victim groups, and many other things to provide support for those who are still suffering from the destruction that was caused. This may sometimes be good for people to recall, but it can also cause trauma as well. In the Truth, Memory, and Representation piece by Elizabeth Drexler, she talks about how these tribunals enforce a type of recalling that many people cannot handle, and it brings back memories in a narrative type of way that may further the trauma that the person has (Hinton, O’Neill 2009). These memorial/cultural re-enactment type legal mechanisms are supposed to be a part of the transitional justice that is established within an area and help strengthen the community, however this may be the wrong approach for some areas and situations because not everything can be a “one-size-fits-all.”
Hinton, A. L., & O’Neill, K. L. (2009). Genocide: Truth, memory, and representation. Durham: Duke University Press.
Shaw, R., Waldorf, L., & Hazan, P. (2010). Localizing transitional justice: Interventions and priorities after mass violence. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Liberian Civil War. Retrieved July 23, 2016, from http://www2.needham.k12.ma.us/nhs/cur/Baker_00/03-04/baker-nmr-hec-3-04/liberian_civil_war.htm