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Underdevelopment as Impunity: The Centrality of Economic Redress in Transitional Justice in Africa

Yvette Selim
University of New South Wales
Tim Murithi
Yvette Selim
University of New South Wales
Open Panel

Abstract

The failure to promote development and economic redress in the aftermath of a political transition or in a post-conflict society is tantamount to entrenching impunity. This article will argue that even though the transitional justice field has enumerated a range of judicial, quasi-judicial, political and social dimensions of rebuilding societies following a regime transformation, there is a dearth of analysis assessing how the dimension of economic redress impacts upon the medium to long-term stability of communities. The article will begin with contextualising underdevelopment and then examine how any political transition has to be consolidated through economic redress. This article will contribute towards the distributive justice literature, by assessing the link between development and transitional justice. It questions whether the persistent reluctance of transitional justice practitioners to pursue distributive justice is based on the assumption that distributive justice issues are more appropriately addressed by the development and post-conflict reconstruction fields. The article argues that leaving distributive justice issues to be addressed by development actors, however, fails to recognise that in transitional societies there is a continuum of activities and actors and that this failure to recognise the continuum between peacebuilders, development actors and transitional justice actors consequently fails to capitalise upon a synergy that could reinforce both fields. This article will argue that if development is not pursued as a key tenet of transitional justice then it allows the impunity of past economic injustice to prevail, which has major ramifications for the stabilisation of post-conflict societies.