The Dynamics of Transitional Justice: International Models and Local Realities in East Timor (Hardback) book cover

The Dynamics of Transitional Justice

International Models and Local Realities in East Timor

By Lia Kent

© 2012 – Routledge

242 pages | 8 B/W Illus.

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The Dynamics of Transitional Justice draws on the case of East Timor in order to reassess how transitional justice mechanisms actually play out at the local level. Transitional justice mechanisms – including trials and truth commissions – have become firmly entrenched as part of the United Nations ‘tool-kit’ for successful post-conflict recovery. It is now commonly assumed that by establishing individual accountability for human rights violations, and initiating truth-seeking and reconciliation programs, individuals and societies will be assisted to ‘come to terms’ with the violent past and states will make the ‘transition’ to peaceful, stable liberal democracies. Set against the backdrop of East Timor’s referendum and the widespread violence of 1999, this book interrogates the gap between the official claims made for transitional justice and local expectations. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including extensive in-depth interviews with victims/survivors, community leaders and other actors, it produces a nuanced and critical account of the complex interplay between internationally-sponsored trials and truth commissions, national justice agendas and local priorities. The Dynamics of Transitional Justice fills a significant gap in the existing social science literature on transitional justice, and offers new insights for researchers and practitioners alike.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Global Celebration of Transitional Justice and the East Timor Reality; Chapter One: Interrogating ‘Transition’ and ‘Justice’; Chapter Two: Stability versus Retributive Justice: Unpacking the UN’s East Timor ‘Success Story’; Chapter Three: The Serious Crimes Process and the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation: Justice Possibilities and Impossibilities; Chapter Four: National Unity, Collective Struggle and the Future: the East Timorese Leadership’s Narratives of Justice and Nation-Building; Chapter Five: Local Narratives of (In)Justice: Recognition, Retribution and Economic Assistance; Chapter Six: Local Memory Practices and the Emerging Politics of Victims’ Rights; Chapter Seven: Rethinking Transitional Justice; Bibliography

About the Author

Lia Kent is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of International, Political and Strategic Studies at the Australian National University.

About the Series

Transitional Justice

The study of transitional justice has emerged as one of the most diverse and intellectual exciting developments in the social sciences in the last two decades. From its origins in human rights activism and comparative political science the field is increasingly characterised by its geographic and disciplinary breadth. Routledge’s Transitional Justice series publishes innovative work across a range of disciplines working on transitional justice related topics: including law, sociology, criminology, psychology, anthropology, political science, development studies and international relations.

The series includes titles which address larger theoretical questions on transitional justice, including the intersection of notions such as justice, truth, accountability, impunity and the construction of transitional justice knowledge. It also contains critical and theoretically informed empirical work on the workings of institutions such as truth commissions, community based reconciliation, victim empowerment, ex-combatant demobilisation, or regional discussions on practical programmes in particular areas. Finally, the series covers the legal aspects of transitional justice; although, avoiding dry, overly technical or dull legal texts, it specialises in a style of legal scholarship that reflects the energy and vitality of this exciting field.

For further details on the series please contact the Series Editor.

Kieran McEvoy

Professor of Law and Transitional Justice

School of Law

Queens University Belfast


44 (0) 2890973873

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Criminal Law / General
LAW / International
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security