The Place of Reconciliation in Transitional Justice

30 June 2017

Reconciliation is a complex set of processes that involve building or rebuilding relationships, often in the aftermath of massive and widespread human rights violations.

It can occur at the individual, interpersonal, socio-political, and institutional levels and be described as “thin” if it is based on coexistence with little or no trust, respect, and shared values, or “thick” if it is based on the restoration of dignity, reversing structural causes of marginalization and discrimination, and restoring victims to their position as rights bearers and citizens.

Are reconciliation and justice compatible?

The International Center of Transitional Justice‘s briefing, “The Place of Reconciliation in Transitional Justice“, deals with conceptions and misconceptions of reconciliation.

While processes of transitional justice and reconciliation may interact, the two notions should not be conflated. Reconciliation as an outcome is only one of the potential objectives of transitional justice, and its relevance depends on each context.

To the extent that transitional justice processes succeed in recognizing victims, restoring trust in the state and one’s fellow citizens, and preventing future violations, they may positively contribute to vertical and/or horizontal reconciliation in different contexts.

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