Justice and Reconciliation in Africa

The Emergence of the African Union Transitional Justice Policy

Authored by: Tim Murithi

Routledge Handbook of African Peacebuilding

Print publication date:  May  2022
Online publication date:  May  2022

Print ISBN: 9780367181949
eBook ISBN: 9780429060038
Adobe ISBN:


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Originating from a legalistic tradition, transitional justice was initially focused on the use of judicial processes to address civil and political violations in countries after a conflict. Africa’s experiences with transitional justice demonstrated the limits of its ‘traditional’ acceptation. This chapter argues that Africa has played a leading role in the transformation, innovation and diffusion of the ideas, norms and practices of justice and reconciliation. Africa’s experiences have demonstrated that transitional justice processes are operationalised predominantly in post-conflict situations, in which the imperative to pursue peacebuilding is just as necessary as the demands to deliver justice to the victims. Thus, its implementation of transitional justice implied a widening of the concept beyond its narrow civil and political focus to include socio-economic and psychosocial issues. Considering that a number of countries on the continent will be emerging from conflict in the next decade and beyond, Africa will continue to be a thought-leader, norm-setter and norm entrepreneur in terms of transitional justice processes and institutions. These African innovations have led to the first regional organisation ambition to develop a transitional justice policy, the African Union Transitional Justice Policy (AUTJP) adopted in 2019.

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