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The pitfalls and politics of holistic justice

Friedman, Rebekka and Jillions, Andrew (2015) The pitfalls and politics of holistic justice. Global Policy, 6 (2). pp. 141-150. ISSN 1758-5880

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1758-5899.12193


This article critically assesses the concept of the complementarity of means, a concept that underpins the ‘holistic justice’ turn in postconflict policy making. Our concern is with how global transitional justice strategies are being informed by a compelling but vague ideal of institutional cooperation. Drawing on research into Sierra Leone's ‘two tracks’ of transitional justice, we argue that political interaction between the two mechanisms and a contentious, ad hoc learning process between the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission were crucial to the way the complementarity of means has come to underpin the holistic justice agenda. We caution that by treating the complementarity of means as a mechanical outcome of the mere existence of separate transitional justice mechanisms, global policy makers have drawn the wrong empirical lessons from Sierra Leone. Political engagement played a central role in constructing a pragmatic partnership between the competing institutions, and in accounting for some of the long-term and unintended consequences of transitional justice. We argue that if a complementarity of means is to be effectively realized global policy makers need to embrace – rather than deny – the politics of holistic justice.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2015 University of Durham and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2015 16:05
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2020 05:41

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