Article by 2013 DPDF Critical Approaches to Human Rights Research Directors Amy Ross and Chandra Lekha Sriram.
Violence and human rights violations in putatively internal armed conflicts often involve significant cross-border dimensions. Yet the transitional justice mechanisms that respond to past atrocities have generally been undertaken in national or international institutions and focus primarily on offenses within a single state and primarily by national actors of that state. Despite the proliferation of transitional justice mechanisms, they have generally not been designed or utilized to address transboundary or regionalized abuses. The result has been significant inconsistencies in practice, with some crimes addressed and others ignored, creating zones of impunity. In this article, we explore the relative absence of regional transitional justice mechanisms, and consider how regional approaches have been used to promote conflict resolution and might be used to shape accountability processes as well. Drawing on the experiences of Central America and the Democratic Republic of Congo, we argue that the potential for regional approaches is as yet untested but merits closer consideration.