Fall/Winter 2009

ISSN 1558-9855

VOL. 5, NO. 3


Accountability After Mass Atrocity: Latin American and African Cases in Comparative Perspective’

About the Transitional/Transnational Working Group at the Center for Global Studies

The Transitional/Transnational Justice (TTJ) Working Group at the Center for Global Studies is a group of Mason faculty and graduate students interested in exploring the workings of global justice and human rights. The TTJ Working Group has engaged in a series of activities and events on the Mason campus and beyond. In Spring 2008, the TTJ Working Group launched the Human Rights, Global Justice and Democracy Project, a project directed by TTJ Working Group coordinator and Mason faculty member Jo-Marie Burt. The project examines efforts in Latin America to bring alleged perpetrators of human rights crimes to justice and the social and political conflicts surrounding such efforts. In June 2008, Mason faculty Susan Hirsch, one of the founding members of the TTJ Working Group, organized a roundtable at the Law and Society Association Annual Convention entitled “Seeking Accountability after Mass Atrocity: Implications for Victims and Justice.” Several members of that roundtable participated in an international symposium convened by Professors Burt and Hirsch in May 2009 entitled, “Accountability after Mass Atrocity: Latin American and African Examples in Comparative Perspective.” The purpose of the symposium was to examine accountability efforts from a comparative and cross-regional perspective. In the following issue of Global Studies Review, several participants from that conference offer their reflections on accountability efforts in Latin America and Africa.


justiceIntroduction: Accountability in the Aftermath of Mass Atrocity by Jo-Marie Burt

Trials can at best be one of many mechanisms societies adopt to achieve global justice both for the individual victims of violence as well as for society at large. But without them, impunity stands as a key obstacle to consolidating democracy and the rule of law.

ICCAre We There Yet: Ideas For Evaluating the Progress of Transitional Justice by Susan Benesch

After over two decades of transitional justice mechanisms Benesch explores indicators to measure progress. She argues that despite many complementary tools, transition cannot be achieved without accountability.

MissionAccountability in Africa: Current Practice, Future Directions by Mark Drumbl

In recent years, several African atrocities have become judicialized internationally. Drumbl critically assesses the institutional and operational aspects of this phenomenon.

Peacekeeping - UNMISThe Role of Criminal Prosecutions in Response to Grave Human Rights Violations at the Local, National and International Levels: the Case of Uganda by Stephen Lamony

Lamony discusses the role of criminal prosecutions in local, national, regional and international institutions as a guarantee for sustainable peace in Uganda.

Apartheid - A Crime Against HumanityReversing Accountability in South Africa: From Amnesty to Pardons and Non-Prosecutions by Hugo van der Merwe

Summarizing the history of amnesty, prosecutions and pardons in South Africa, van der Merwe demonstrates how the avenues for consultation and participation for victims have been vanishing since the closure of the truth commission.


The Layers of Amnesty: Evidence from Surveys of Victims in Five African Countries by David Backer

Backer uses original data from surveys conducted in Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and South Africa since 2002, showing that standard assumptions are inaccurate: majorities of victims approve of amnesty .

Pinochet Does Transitional Justice Work? Latin America in Comparative Perspective by Tricia D. Olsen, Leigh A. Payne, and Andrew G. Reiter

Drawing from quantitative comparative analysis, Payne et al. argue that zero-sum approaches to transitional justice in the existing literature misses an important interaction between trials and amnesties that allows for improved human rights and democracy outcomes.

FujimoriLessons From the Trial of the Former President Alberto Fujimori by Ronald Gamarra

The trial of former Peruvian head-of-state Alberto Fujimori highlights the importance of interactions between local and global justice mechanisms to hold perpetrators of past human rights violations accountable.

GitmoPrisonerPreventing the New American “Professionalism”: Accountability for Lawyers and Health Care Professionals Shaping Torture by Gitanjali S. Gutierrez

Gutierrez describes how lawyers and health care professionals were key players in the authorization, creation, and implementation of torture and related legal violations, arguing for retributive justice mechanisms to hold them accountable.