Research

The Comparative Study of Transitional Justice in Africa (CSTJA) seeks to contribute to policy deliberations about transitional justice processes in Africa. The Study presents a trend analysis of 12 country case studies in Africa where transitional justice mechanisms have been implemented. Mapping the range of processes in this field, the Study pays attention to transitional justice mechanisms instigated between 1990 and 2011 to deepen the understanding of how these processes were developed, and the role of their respective contributions to the prevention or recurrence of war and repression. Specifically, the Study will examine the factors that shaped state policy decisions in framing the diverse set of responses to dealing with legacies of dictatorship, civil war, and mass human rights abuses. Furthermore, the consequences of these decisions for achieving sustainable peace and preventing future human rights abuses will be assessed.

The 12 country cases are: Algeria, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, and Tunisia.

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 approaches to transitional justice, the Study will provide a basis for understanding the drivers and shapers of transitional justice decision-making, as well as the emergent impact trends of the transitional justice processes on peace and democracy.

The Study’s first phase has been completed wherein 12 case reports were compiled that investigated the TJ processes in each country. The second (and current) phase is the compilation of two reports that analyse (1) the Drivers of TJ Processes; and (2) the Impacts of the Transitional Justice in each of the cases. The final stage of the Study focuses upon dissemination of the findings. The Study will result in reports and presentations containing practical recommendations directed at key policy-makers, including those in the AU, South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation, donors involved in transitional justice funding, civil society, media, and academia. It is envisioned that the Study will contribute to critical debates in African transitional justice, as well as advance policies and measures for its robust implementation.

Key staff involved in the project include:

Hugo van der Merwe – Director of Research, Knowledge and Learning
Maxine Rubin – Researcher

Related Knowledge Outputs To Date:

Tunisia: The Colonial Legacy and Transitional Justice [Hyperlink: http://www.csvr.org.za/pdf/Tunisia-Report-Electronic.pdf]

Nigeria: The Colonial Legacy and Transitional Justice [Hyperlink http://www.csvr.org.za/pdf/Nigerian-Report-Electronic.pdf]

Yusuf, Hakeem O. "Colonialism and the Dilemmas of Transitional Justice in Nigeria." International Journal of Transitional Justice (2018), available at https://academic.oup.com/ijtj/article-abstract/12/2/257/4955293?redirectedFrom=fulltext

One of CSVR’s strategic priorities is “to study, analyse and generate knowledge on violence and conflict.” Key to all CSVR’s projects, is the aim to facilitate the production and sharing of knowledge. Understanding violence and conflict, their causes and dynamics, and ways to prevent and redress violence remains an important challenge in guiding society’s attempts to build sustainable peace.

Some of CSVR’s projects are primarily designed as research projects, but the majority of research we do happens alongside our advocacy and intervention work. Our research is done in a way that seeks to build the capacity of our partners in addressing issues of violence and reconciliation. We seek to collaborate with and learn from the lived and diverse experiences of communities affected by violence and conflict. Our research occurs at multiple levels – individual, community, national, international – but with a particular focus on Africa as a region and on South Africa.

Research at CSVR fulfils three key functions:

  1. Our research supports evidence-based advocacy and intervention work, ensuring that our engagement with communities, clients and stakeholders is based on an informed understanding of key issues and challenges.
  2. Our research supports the communities where we work to articulate their understandings and priorities in relation to the issues that CSVR addresses.
  3. Our research informs national public debate, critical policy dialogues and international discourse on issues of violence and sustainable peace.

CSVR research is both externally focused (documenting and analysing conflict and designing initiatives to address these problems) and internally focused (reflecting on our own practice and documenting what we have learned from our work). The latter element is captured in our Learning and Knowledge Management Team, which is a key approach used by the CSVR to build and disseminate knowledge about our work.

CSVR’s research focuses on a range of topics. Research projects currently underway include:

Recently concluded research projects include:

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