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Another kind of justice? Transitional Justice between Normative Questions and Political Practices»

beatrice Magni
Università degli Studi di Milano
beatrice Magni
Università degli Studi di Milano
Open Panel

Abstract

In the difficult balance between justice and politics, and in order to the ends of trans-national justice, the aim of the paper is to formulate a model of transitional justice that gives account of tensions and equilibriums between truth and justice, between retribution and restoration, memory and oblivion, past and present. It needs to be clarified what happens to truth when it is publicly recognised, and how this recognition affects politics. From this perspective, the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions represent a model which is as interesting as controversial. The comparison between a retributive paradigm of justice, that prescribes to punish those who are responsible for the violation, and a restorative one, focused on therapeutic and reparative dynamics aimed at reconciliation, leaves open many theoretical and normative questions. From a more practical perspective too, attempts at balancing normative requirements and political commitments are unavoidable and dilemmatic. In situations of reconciliation after deep and violent divisions, truth-telling, that is naming abuses and responsibilities, could be counterproductive favouring moral hatred; on the other hand ignoring or forgetting truth for the sake of pacification could be dangerous as well. So the point is: which reconciliation? Should we look for sound political relationships or should we restrict ourselves to decent political relationships? It is therefore necessary to elaborate a model of transitional justice that, on the one hand, does not rely on an expediential trade-off between truth and justice and, on the other hand, takes into account the unavoidable connection between retributive justice and restorative justice.