Transitional justice mechanisms such as criminal trials, truth commissions, and reparation programs have increasingly been adopted in the aftermath of violent conflict, and are generally considered vital to peace and democracy. Yet we know relatively little about the actual impact of such strategies on the societies concerned. This paper develops a tentative analytical framework for exploring and understanding the (alleged positive) impacts of various transitional justice mechanisms on the dual processes of peacebuilding and democratization. The framework will address conceptual, methodological and measurement challenges connected to impact evaluation. Contextual factors will be given special attention. The framework proposes using mixed methods as a useful approach to better grasping complex, dynamic, and evolving social processes. It is hoped that this tentative framework will be helpful for undertaking rigid, systematic cross-country analysis to increase our understanding of how and in which ways different approaches to transitional justice – including the absence of such mechanisms – may affect the bumpy road to peace and democracy in a post-authoritarian or post-conflict situation.

Elin Skaar

Senior Researcher, Coordinator: Rights and Legal Institutions