ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

Depoliticising political transitions: understanding the effects of the transitional justice paradigm

Hannah Franzki
Birkbeck, University of London
Hannah Franzki
Birkbeck, University of London
Carolina Olarte Olarte
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper seeks to contribute to the theorisation of transitional justice by analysing the ways in which the current transitional justice paradigm, in particular its legal dimension, shapes the political and economic options for societies in transition. Adopting a genealogical approach, it locates the emergence of the notion of transitional justice in the early 1990s in the context of wider political developments on a global level that favour liberal democracies on a political and open market economies on an economic level. In doing so, the paper challenges the idea of transitional justice as an impartial tool to facilitate political and social transitions and/or a neutral concept to analyse the latter. To substantiate this claim, the paper proceeds in two steps: First, an analysis of the relation between transition and economic matters as posited by actors involved in transitional justice (NGOs, UN, World Bank etc.) will be provided. Such analysis points out the insistence on the normative rightness of transit and the increasing regularisation of participatory practices. The insistence of normative rightness is understood as a rather uncritical conception of the rule of law as the expression of shared and standardized normative expectations. The regularisation of participatory practices is addressed through expert knowledge, underlying processes of truth, national consultancies and memorialisation practices. In the second part we will argue that these two factors constitute an obstacle, both conceptually and practically, to question economic inequalities at the root of many transitional societies because they exempt certain decisions from the field of political contestation. Here, it will be contended that the depoliticisation of the transition process is the result of the unquestioned liberal separation of the political and the economic sphere, with the societal project of transition being reduced to a political sphere already mediated by transitional normative assumptions.