Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

Pambazuka News invites articles on the question of Transitional Justice in Africa to help readers make sense of the debate in order to effectively play their roles as citizens of Africa.

Much debate in the recent past among scholarly spaces has revealed that Transitional Justice as an emerging field of study and practice is still finding its conceptual and political feet. It is worth noting that there has been increased traction in certain regions of the world, Africa included, to address legacies of past abuses by the international community.

Whereas the tendency towards finding solutions to mass atrocities that occurred during civil wars and other political violence in African countries such as Burundi, Kenya, DRC, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Uganda - just to name a few - has been to call upon the international community to intervene, such a model has proved to be not the most effective one. Much talk and interventions in responding to mass atrocities have claimed and hoped to deter future violations of human dignity and rights.

In responding to collective violence in Africa various mechanisms have been suggested, and indeed tried, such as truth-seeking about human violations or violence, prosecution of individuals bearing the greatest responsibility for a conflict, reparations for victims of violence and institutional reform.

Critics have indeed questioned these Transitional Justice mechanisms in their ability to resolve the underlying root causes of violence and conflicts in Africa or to bring about justice for the victims, reconciling communities and securing stable democratic societies.

Debates in Africa have moved further to raise critical questions on the assumptions that have shaped Transitional Justice based on the realities and context of the continent. The definitions of Transitional Justice and its operative concepts have been highly disputed. Commentators on Africa have observed the increasing growth of Transitional Justice as an industry attracting a lot of funding and a proliferation of many local and international NGOs championing implementation of various sets of mechanisms to resolve past abuses.

This trend shows that many hard questions need to be asked by the citizens of Africa to analyse the various complexities and realities of the current Transitional Justice processes and practices in addressing concerns of post-conflict societies. There is a need for a new thinking towards producing self-sustaining and future-looking approaches in addressing legacies of past abuses and reconstructing affected societies.


• When talking about Transitional Justice, Transition from what? Whose Justice are we focusing on?
• How can Transitional Justice processes happen in the absence of a regime or democratic change?
• Why has there been a lot of focus on purely juridical mechanisms and processes without factoring in the significant relevance and role of socio-economic and political contexts that might better explain the origins and other factors in the conflict continuum?
• Why has there been a lot of power imbalance globally in the discussions on Transitional Justice?
• The world is witnessing a decline in political and economic power by the West especially USA, could this be an opportunity for the global south to model new visions on Transition Justice for the future?
• To what extent have Transitional Justice processes been able to transform the role of women beyond victims of violations?
• How can Transitional Justice mechanisms be cautions not to entrench already existing gender hierarchies and discrimination?
• Have Transitional Justice mechanisms been fully conscious of the emerging issues in Africa with a link to violence such as natural resource exploitation?
• Why have Africans not fully supported and funded the economy of Transitional Justice?
• What is the role of the international community and donors in influencing transitional justice discourse and processes in Africa?
• Can there be self-sustaining Afro-centric transi¬tional justice processes?

Pambazuka News Editorial Team invites articles on these and related questions for a special issue on Transitional Justice in Africa planned for November 2014.


LENGTH OF ARTICLES: Articles should be written in Microsoft Word, Font: Times, size 12 and be between 1000-3000 words

Please submit a biography of two lines at the end of your article and send it to:[email protected]