Transitional Justice in Africa: What's Human Rights Got to Do with It?

Transitional justice in Africa requires (a) the confrontation of the violations of human and peoples’ rights inflicted during conflict or authoritarian rule in order to address the wrongs of the past, (b) the creation of security and peace by ensuring the cessation of hostilities, and (c) the institutionalisation of mechanisms to build a just, democratic and inclusive political future for all. However, transitional justice processes on the continent often do not conform to these conditions, resulting in partial implementation of reforms and reparations, and often a relapse into violent conflict. Accountability for systemic and gross human rights violations committed during times of armed conflict or authoritarian rule is at the core of transitional justice. Human rights are thus a central part of transitional justice, as its processes deal with histories of human rights abuses and help societies move towards just and sustainable peace and dignity for all. The issues addressed in the context of transitional justice are not limited to providing redress and establishing accountability for violations of civil and political rights; they also relate closely to group identities, gendered violence and structural socioeconomic disparities.