Reconciliation and Transitional Justice: The Case of Rwanda's Gacaca Courts
"This paper has a two-fold objective:firstly to conceptualise reconciliation as an outcome of transitional justice, and secondly to analyse critically the implications and consequences of the Rwandan transitional justice programmes (specifically the gacaca system) in terms of this evaluative framework. Following Galtung’s definition of ‘positive peace’, I develop an understanding of reconciliation as the removal of lingering or new forms of structural and cultural violence in a post-conflict society. Borrowing from Mamdani, a key goal of countering cultural violence is identified as ‘reconciliation with history’ which entails building agreement through enabling engagement between opposing historical perspectives, as well as by acknowledging and including in the ‘official narrative’ individual ‘little narratives’ in the form of victim and perpetrator testimonies. The gacaca process is consequently evaluated in terms of the objectives developed above. The courts, however, remain in operation at the time of writing, making a conclusive judgement of their performance premature."