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The Interplay between Transitional Justice and Reconciliation in Peacebuilding

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - InterTJRPB (The Interplay between Transitional Justice and Reconciliation in Peacebuilding)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2021-08-31

This project explored “The interplay between transitional justice and reconciliation processes in peacebuilding” after violent conflicts. The project was undertaken given a knowledge gap resulting from the contradictory insights and speculation, in the existing literature and poor empirical evidence, on the peacebuilding effects of transitional justice and reconciliation mechanisms and processes. More in-depth comparative empirical and theoretical inquiries, as well as comparison between cases, were thus needed in order to explain how the relationship between transitional justice and reconciliation processes works in practice across different context. The project’s overall purpose was thus to address this gap by considering two country cases, Algeria and Rwanda, which have experienced armed conflicts but within different contexts and engaged in transitional justice and reconciliation processes to address the legacies of these conflicts.
Empirical findings encompass theoretical and clear-cut policy and practical action results that are useful for multiple actors and audience—both academic and non-academic. In other words, the study results are useful for scientific and societal purposes (research, education, and policy actions). Specifically, the project explored four objectives. The first objective aimed to explore why countries or states chose particular transitional justice and reconciliation mechanisms, and the factors that influence and restrain their choice. The second objective endeavoured to explore and explain whether, and in what ways, the chosen transitional justice and reconciliation mechanisms affect each other on the ground. The third objective aimed to explore which combinations of transitional justice and reconciliation mechanisms are most effective in dealing with the legacies of past violence, and to identify the factors that explain success or failure. Finally, the project analysed how the combination of the chosen transitional justice and reconciliation mechanisms affect peacebuilding.
Methodologically, the design of this project was a comparative qualitative case study, which used the Qualitative Comparative Analysis method and participatory visual methods combining photo-voice and art, along with elicitation and auto-driving.The process of qualitative data collection combined archival review and interviews. Two main categories of participants, who have been involved, or with expertise, in various transitional justice and reconciliation processes, participated in this study: (1) individuals at the TOP and ELITE levels including government officials, representatives of political parties, military leaders, representatives of international organizations, lawyers, academics, and (2) individuals at the GRASSROOTS level including religious leaders, civil society (NGOs, associations/cooperatives) and community leaders, and representatives of local constituencies (e.g. women, youth, educators, private sector, survivors, perpetrators…).
Before fieldwork for data collection in Rwanda and Algeria commenced, ethical approvals were obtained from Coventry University. In Rwanda, the research permit was also obtained in advance from the authorised body (the University of Rwanda) before fieldwork commenced. The effective implementation of this project has been affected by COVID-19 situation. It was thus impossible to complete fieldwork in Rwanda and it was impossible to travel to Algeria. In Rwanda, 3 focus froup discussions (10 individuals in each group) and 12 individual interviews had been conducted before Covid-19 outbreak and ensuing lockdown. Additional 16 interviews were conduced online via Zoom. In Rwanda, the total number of research participants thus 58. In Algeria, 38 online interviews (Via Zoom) were conducted. Despite the Covid-19 situation, data collected provided the study with valid, trustworthy and reliable empirical findings for policy, practice and theoretical use. Findings indicate that the country contexl and political situation/agenda determines the required transitional and reconciliation mechanisms and processes. In both country cases, all mechanisms were complementary although insufficiently, and lacked the collaboration between all concerned actors at all levels (top and grassroots levels) in their design. As a result, there was tension and incompatibility between goals and strategies proposed and advocated for by the state, one hand, and those advocated for by grassroots civil society organisations and ordinary citizens, particularly victims and their relatives, on the other hand. The overall conclusion of this study is that the positive impact of the combination of transitional justice and reconciliation mechanisms on peacebuilding depends on the presence or absence of collaboration the top and grassroots actors and how their proposed approaches (e.g. goals and strategies) are integrated.
The main study results have so far been disseminated through research seminars, workshops, international conferences, and communicated through social media (2 video clips on Youtube) and during Rising Peace Forum.
All publications and other outputs comply with this obligation Article 29.4 of the grant agreement under Horizon 2020, and I commit to ensuring that all future publications (in print and/or in preparation) will also comply with this obligation.
It is expected that this projects' theoretical and clear-cut policy and practical action results will raise awareness, inform and engage multiple actors and audience—both academic and non-academic, as well as ensure the sustainable relevance of empirical findings. Actors who will make concrete use of results include: (1) the academic community of Coventry University, as well as (2) its non-academic partners of in peacebuilding. Given its pragmatic relevance, this project’s findings will particularly be useful for international organizations such as the United Nations, European Union, and national governments notably Rwanda and Algeria, as well as international and national non-governmental organizations while revising and carrying out their respective peacebuilding strategies. For example, the project’s results will inform policies and practice of the European Union, regarding its support strategy that strives for a flexible approach based on genuine understanding of specific contexts and needs and the viability of meaningful transitional justice processes.
At least three peer reviewed articles and two policy briefs will be published, as well as 1 paper of empirical results shared on online repository.

No website has been developed for the project. The URL is encoded with www.PeaceMe.com
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