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Measuring the impact of punishment and forgiveness: a framework for evaluating transitional justice

31-03-2006 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 861, by Pierre Hazan

The mechanisms of transitional justice have gradually become a vector of globalization, seeking to stabilize, pacify and reassure entire populations. These mechanisms can play a crucial role in societies torn apart by the violence of conflict, but they must contribute effectively to the will of the local actors to take their destiny into their own hands by devising political and institutional safeguards to prevent a repeat of mass crimes.


Pierre Hazan
is Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, Washington, DC 

Truth commissions, international criminal tribunals, reparations, public apologies and other mechanisms of transitional justice are the new mantras of the post-cold-war era. Their purpose is to foster reconciliation in societies that have experienced widespread human-rights violations and to promote reform and democracy, the ultimate aim being to defuse tension. But to what degree are these mechanisms, which are financially and politically supported by the international community and NGOs, truly effective? Very little, in fact, is known about their impact. By examining the underlying hypotheses and workings of transitional justice and proposing a series of indicators to evaluate its results, this article helps fill the gap.  

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