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Padraig McAuliffe

This chapter outlines the core focus of this book, namely the malleability of the structures that underpin poverty and inequality in post-conflict states. It defines what is meant by ‘post-conflict’ for the purposes of the book and argues that certain structural and post-conflict variables have been insufficiently included in fourth-generation transitional justice.

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Padraig McAuliffe

Both scholars and policy-makers have offered a set of highly ambitious forms of transformation. This chapter surveys the transitional justice discourse and notes the inherent tensions between growing ambitions and growing doubt about transitional justice’s efficacy. To explain this apparent clash between ambition and doubt, the chapter identifies the social constructivist theorizing that characterizes the discipline’s optimism about the malleability of post-conflict states.

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Padraig McAuliffe

Contemporary civil wars tend to end in negotiated settlements, which may or may not facilitate the promotion of socio-economic rights or any other forms of economic justice. As a result, subsequent phases of peace negotiation and power-sharing undermine root causes by elevating security over rights, ignoring the voices of civil society and reformist constituencies, and maintaining exclusivist coalitions in government.

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Padraig McAuliffe

This chapter examines the impact of liberal-legalism on transitional justice at the peacebuilding stage. Specifically, it examines the critical assumption that the circumscribed ambitions of transitional justice we see on the ground are conditioned by their position within an overarching liberal peacebuilding framework. Too often, the ability of temporary interveners to influence government policy is overstated, leading to the neglect of inherited problems like state administrative weakness, patrimonial economic structures and elite control of wealth and opportunity. In fact, little in the critical discourse of transitional justice – which is shaped almost exclusively around the rote rejection of liberalism – provides guidance on how to shift the long-term and culturally engrained dynamics of inequality.

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Padraig McAuliffe

The transitional justice discourse places great faith in the potential of localized or grassroots forms of justice to anchor the transformation of economic injustice at the community and national level. While bottom-up justice is highly beneficial in the immediate community, it may have few follow-on effects for the wider national community on account of local–local politics and traditions, the different distribution of macro-level and micro-level cleavages, as well as the failure to integrate local projects with wider emancipatory politics at the meso- and macro-levels.

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Padraig McAuliffe

Even if transformative approaches are adopted, there will remain a significant gap between promise and reality in terms of outcomes. The only way in which transitional justice can effectively respond to economic injustice is if it can align the incentives of post-conflict governments and elites with transformative objectives. The chapter outlines a future research agenda that might make this process of alignment clearer. In the absence of some administrative capability and political will on the part of post-conflict leaders, a limitation of ambition or a shift to a longer-term definition of success may be the only possible response.

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Padraig McAuliffe

Despite the growing focus on issues of socio-economic transformation in contemporary transitional justice, the path dependencies imposed by the political economy of war-to-peace transitions and the limitations imposed by weak statehood are seldom considered. This book explores transitional justice’s prospects for seeking economic justice and reform of structures of poverty in the specific context of post-conflict states.
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Padraig McAuliffe

Although it is commonly assumed that transitional justice is inherently restorative of the rule of law, the return of the rule of law it apparently heralds is a much wider and more contingent phenomenon. In transitional justice scholarship and policy documents soliciting support for projects in the field, the rule of law is presented as a broad narrative of progress from the dominance of force to the judicialization of politics, primarily viewed through the lens of a single defining idea, namely an almost exclusive focus on legal and non-legal responses to human rights deprivations broadly understood. This complements, but falls far short of, the conception of the rule of law in large reconstruction missions where the rule of law is conceived of in a more programmatic way as an admixture of institutions, culture and norms. Given what we know about the enduring nature of weak rule of law in post-conflict states, it should not be assumed that transitional justice automatically contributes anything beyond the symbolic to institutional reconstruction or the process of fostering a cultural commitment on the part of rulers or the ruled. Justice is but one virtue of the rule of law – policy-makers and practitioners need to separate justice conceptually from the rule of law if either is to be pursued with clarity. Rule of law; democratization; reconstruction