Courts as a tool in transitions

Lessons from the special tribunal for Lebanon

Authored by: Chandra Lekha Sriram

Routledge Handbook on Human Rights and the Middle East and North Africa

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138807679
eBook ISBN: 9781315750972
Adobe ISBN: 9781317613763


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Transitional justice measures, including trials, are frequently used in countries experiencing transitions from violent conflict or authoritarian rule. They are expected not only to deliver verdicts in specific cases but also to help promote peace, stability, or reconciliation. Advocates argue that accountability measures can help to deter future violence and even prevent cycles of violence, demonstrate and help to reinstall the rule of law and democracy, and contribute in so doing to longer-term stability. Indeed, transitional justice measures frequently operate alongside specific measures of peacebuilding such as rule of law promotion, security sector reform, and disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of ex-combatants. Further, increasingly those developing such measures of peacebuilding are expected to take transitional justice measures into account. 1 What happens, however, when an ostensible transitional justice measure is developed decades after the end of the conflict, where such standard measures of peacebuilding were not pursued, or are incomplete? Can the mechanism have the desired effects? And what if that mechanism is not designed to address the wide range of past crimes, but a more recent, limited, set of crimes?

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