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The Politics of Transitional Justice and Peacebuilding: The Case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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This book assesses why some states chose to engage with transitional justice, drawing on the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC has suffered one of the most protracted and deadliest conflicts in Africa in the post-Cold War period. Since the outbreak of the first Congolese war, the country has been caught in a vortex of violence, repeated breakdowns This book assesses why some states chose to engage with transitional justice, drawing on the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC has suffered one of the most protracted and deadliest conflicts in Africa in the post-Cold War period. Since the outbreak of the first Congolese war, the country has been caught in a vortex of violence, repeated breakdowns of peace agreements, and mass human rights abuses. Human rights groups have lamented the slow progress in ending impunity and providing accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all sides to the conflict. Yet at the same time, as far back as 1999, demands to set up transitional justice measures in the country have been made. What marks out the DRC case is thus not so much the absence of justice but the seemingly paradoxical fact that measures to strengthen justice and promote impunity have been pursued simultaneously. This book sheds light on this paradox by investigating the drivers of transitional justice policies in the country. Scholarship on transitional justice postulates that domestic actors are highly unlikely to effectively commit to transitional justice in the absence of international or civil society pressure, particularly in contexts of negotiated or pacted transitions. In the case of the DRC, this book argues that the preferences of domestic elites (comprising both government and rebel representatives) were central in shaping transitional justice processes. These preferences were primarily conditioned by the broader social and political goals the actors pursued in the context of the armed conflict and subsequent peace process, as well as by their understandings of the drivers of the conflict. By complementing approaches focused on structural and international factors with an analyses of elite preferences, this book puts forward an analytical lens which aims to encourage a more critical and complex understanding of why states pursue transitional justice. Politics ultimately frames transitional justice debates in a way that can both work as an impediment and a driver for the establishment of such mechanisms. This book will be of much interest to students of transitional justice, peacebuilding, African politics, law and IR in general.


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This book assesses why some states chose to engage with transitional justice, drawing on the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC has suffered one of the most protracted and deadliest conflicts in Africa in the post-Cold War period. Since the outbreak of the first Congolese war, the country has been caught in a vortex of violence, repeated breakdowns This book assesses why some states chose to engage with transitional justice, drawing on the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC has suffered one of the most protracted and deadliest conflicts in Africa in the post-Cold War period. Since the outbreak of the first Congolese war, the country has been caught in a vortex of violence, repeated breakdowns of peace agreements, and mass human rights abuses. Human rights groups have lamented the slow progress in ending impunity and providing accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all sides to the conflict. Yet at the same time, as far back as 1999, demands to set up transitional justice measures in the country have been made. What marks out the DRC case is thus not so much the absence of justice but the seemingly paradoxical fact that measures to strengthen justice and promote impunity have been pursued simultaneously. This book sheds light on this paradox by investigating the drivers of transitional justice policies in the country. Scholarship on transitional justice postulates that domestic actors are highly unlikely to effectively commit to transitional justice in the absence of international or civil society pressure, particularly in contexts of negotiated or pacted transitions. In the case of the DRC, this book argues that the preferences of domestic elites (comprising both government and rebel representatives) were central in shaping transitional justice processes. These preferences were primarily conditioned by the broader social and political goals the actors pursued in the context of the armed conflict and subsequent peace process, as well as by their understandings of the drivers of the conflict. By complementing approaches focused on structural and international factors with an analyses of elite preferences, this book puts forward an analytical lens which aims to encourage a more critical and complex understanding of why states pursue transitional justice. Politics ultimately frames transitional justice debates in a way that can both work as an impediment and a driver for the establishment of such mechanisms. This book will be of much interest to students of transitional justice, peacebuilding, African politics, law and IR in general.

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