New Book Series Sheds Light on Transitional Justice
Vetting of Public Employees and Treatment of Victimized Women
SPECIAL OFFER: Buy both books in the “Advancing Transitional Justice” series for just $50. Use code JUSTICE07 at check-out. Offer expires on June 30, 2007.
Countries attempting to transition from armed conflict or authoritarian rule to the rule of law face overwhelming odds. To increase their chances of a successful transition, the SSRC, in cooperation with the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), has released a two-book series on "Advancing Transitional Justice," focusing on two of the more difficult questions that transitional societies typically face.
Justice as Prevention: Vetting Public Employees in Transitional Societies, edited by Alexander Mayer-Rieckh and Pablo de Grieff of the ICTJ, examines the issue of what to do with public employees who perpetrated past human rights abuses and the institutional structures that allow such abuses to happen. Vetting has long been practiced in post-conflict societies yet remains one of the least studied aspects of transitional justice.
What Happened to the Women? Gender and Reparations for Human Rights Violations, edited by Ruth Rubio-Marín, addresses how to ensure that the reparations process gives due recognition to victims, women as well as men. The book shows how women affected by conflict tend to face a double marginalization. First they are the victims of human rights abuse, and then they are victimized again in reparations court or in front of a truth commission.
Both books provide a wealth of case studies, showing how these issues play out in a variety of cultural contexts. Justice as Prevention looks at vetting practices in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, El Salvador, the former German Democratic Republic, Greece, Hungary, and Poland. Two additional cases -- Argentina and South Africa -- explore contexts where politics blocked formal vetting as a potential avenue for the pursuit of justice. What Happened to the Women? compares and contrasts the experiences of victimized women in Guatemala, Peru, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Timor-Leste.
Both books, because they resulted from ICTJ projects that brought together scholars of transitional justice with their counterparts in the field, are oriented toward practical solutions. Justice as Prevention provides an appendix listing operational guidelines for vetting procedures. What Happened to the Women? suggests ways to ensure that gender advocates play a role in making reparation a reality for victimized women.
Last but not least, both books have garnered high praise from those who teach and practice transitional justice. "Justice as Prevention is a triple boon to the field of good governance," said Christopher Stone, Guggenheim professor of the practice of criminal justice at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. "First, it establishes the importance of vetting government employees as an integral part of transitional justice, on a par with criminal prosecutions and truth telling. Second, it gives us a nuanced look at the complexity of the issues, which make vetting in practice so much more difficult than in policy. Finally, the volume's appendix provides an invaluable, practical set of guidelines for those who take up this crucial work. Rarely does a single volume speak with such moral, historical, and practical authority all at once."
"What Happened to the Women? is of immense assistance to gender practitioners and scholars working in the fields of human rights, transitional justice, and peace building," said Yasmin Louise Sooka, director of the Foundation for Human Rights of South Africa and a former commissioner on the truth and reconciliation commissions for Sierra Leone and South Africa. "This book is an absolutely essential tool for gender advocates and transitional justice practitioners."