The aim of this project is to better understand what is meant by ‘resistance’ to transitional justice. Transitional justice refers to a range of responses designed to achieve justice and secure peace in the aftermath of war or after the end of an authoritarian regime. However, different actors involved in transitional justice processes will have different opinions on both the specific practices of implementation and on the claims which are made regarding what type of peace and what type of justice is needed. Because of structures of power and the socio-political contexts of transitional justice processes some of these opinions will be seen as more legitimate than others.
This project will focus on these disagreements about transitional justice and ask ‘what counts as resistance to transitional justice’? Taking a sociological approach, the purpose of this project is not to find a definition of resistance, but rather to ask how resistance is understood by different actors in different contexts.†There will be three case studies explored throughout the course of this project: Ivory Coast, Burundi and Cambodia. Each case offers insights from a different stage of the transitional justice process. In Ivory Coast the post electoral violence in 2011 has been followed by plans for a transitional justice response which is in the early stages of design and implementation; in Burundi post independence civil wars have been followed by a transitional justice process which began with the Arusha Peace Accords in 2000 but which has not yet been implemented; and in Cambodia the transitional justice process comes thirty years after the end of the Democratic Kampuchea regime.
Three researchers will conduct qualitative fieldwork in the case study countries. The research design is not a comparative study, but instead will compare and contrast the unique insights offered from each case through analysing the qualitative outputs of the fieldwork. The contributions of this project will be to both academia and practice, addressing a gap in research on resistance and transitional justice at the same time as pointing to ways in which practice can be altered to better take into account the different perspectives on peace and justice within a given society undergoing transition.