Comparative Study of Transitional Justice in Africa

The Comparative Study of Transitional Justice in Africa (CSTJA) seeks to enrich transitional justice policy and intervention strategy deliberations in Africa. The Study presents a comparative analysis of 12 country case studies in Africa where transitional justice mechanisms have been implemented. Mapping the conflict and the range of processes in each country, the Study examines transitional justice mechanisms implemented between 1990 and 2011. It seeks to deepen our understanding of how these processes were developed, their role in contributing to the prevention or recurrence of war and repression. Specifically, the Study examines the factors that shape policy decisions in framing the diverse set of responses to dealing with legacies of dictatorship, civil war, and mass human rights abuses. The consequences of these decisions for achieving sustainable peace and preventing future human rights abuses are also assessed.

The 12 countries included in the study are: Algeria, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia.

Key themes explored in the study to date include: gender justice, sexual and gender-based violence, colonial legacies, LGBTIQ+, diversity and inclusion, traditional justice, international and African norms, impartial and selective approaches to justice.

This Study fills a critical gap in research on comparative transitional justice as there have been no systematic comparative studies of a larger sample of African countries' experiences of transitional justice. Through synthesizing qualitative and quantitative data, the Study provides a basis for understanding the drivers of transitional justice decision-making, as well as the emergent impact trends of transitional justice processes on peace and democracy.

The Study has produced a series of country reports, a set of policy briefs, four journal articles and three research reports/multi-media outputs which explore transitional justice within particular countries and key themes across a number of countries.

The research has been conducted in close collaboration with CSVR's advocacy team and the findings and recommendations have been shared with various policy audiences, academic forums and advocacy networks across the continent. The project sought in particular to lend support to the popularisation, implementation and refinement of the African Union Transitional Justice Policy.

Knowledge Outputs

Journal Articles and Book Chapters:

  • Hakeem O. Yusuf, "Colonialism and the Dilemmas of Transitional Justice in Nigeria," International Journal of Transitional Justice, 2018, available at
  • Aurélien Pradier, Maxine Rubin amd Hugo van der Merwe, "Between Transitional Justice and Politics: Reparations in South Africa," South African Journal of International Affairs, 2018, 25:3, 301-321, DOI: 10.1080/10220461.2018.1514528
  • Annah Moyo, Maxine Rubin and Hugo van der Merwe, "Reparations for Apartheid-Era Victims in South Africa: The Unfinished Business of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission," in Reparations for Victims of Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity: Systems in Place and Systems in the Making (Eds: Carla Ferstman and Mariana Goetz) Brill, Leiden.
  • Maxine Rubin, "Exploring Transitional Justice's Impact Pathways on Gender Justice: Trends in Sexual- and Gender-based Violence against Women from 13 African Cases," Journal of Human Rights Practice.
  • Hugo van der Merwe and Richard Chelin, "Impartial versus Selective Justice: How Power Shapes Transitional Justice in Africa," African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review.
  • Hugo van der Merwe and Annah Moyo, "Transitional Justice for Colonial-Era Abuses and Legacies: African versus European Policy Priorities," submitted for online publication to the Centre for International Law Research and Policy publication series on Colonial Wrongs, Double Standards, and Access to International Law
  • Mbalenhle Matandela, "Countering the Erasure of African Women in International Relations," submitted for publication to Millennium Journal for International Studies
  • Hugo van der Merwe and Nomathamsanqa Masiko, "Addressing Legacies of Large Scale Abuses through Inclusive Transitional Justice Mechanisms," forthcoming chapter in Carla Koppell (ed.) Diversity and Inclusion in Peacebuilding, Textbook for International Relations students.

Research Reports and Multimedia:

Country Case Studies:

Project Staff

  • Hugo van der Merwe
  • Nomathamsanqa Masiko-Mpaka
  • Masana Ndinga-Kanga
  • Maxine Rubin
  • Richard Chelin
  • Mbalenhle Matandela
  • Tasneem Kala
  • Thokozani Mbwana
  • Niké Wentholt
  • Aurélien Pradier
  • Gianna Kracht
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