Volume 15, Issue 1, March 2021
Online ISSN: 1752-7724, Print ISSN: 1752-7716
In the past two decades, countries emerging from divided histories have increasingly incorporated transitional justice mechanisms in order to uncover and deal with crimes of the past. Transitional justice has fast emerged as a recognised field of policy expertise, research and law, and today, is considered to be an academic discipline in its own right. Futhermore, concerns with transitional justice and its relevance to building durable peace has acquired an urgency and a priority within the world’s most important multilateral agencies. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in addresses to both the Security Council and the General Assembly, has noted that it is only through ‘reintroducing the rule of law and confidence in its impartial application that we can hope to resuscitate societies shattered by conflict’. Citing transitional justice processes as a key vehicle in achieving this objective, Annan announced that the United Nations is working on ‘important new tools’ to strengthen the transitional justice processes of post-conflict states.
Despite the growing importance of this field however, the development of research has to date been piece-meal and sporadic. Researchers and practitioners in this field are drawn from a wide variety of disciplines and from various regions of the world, and have few institutional mechanisms for sharing information and comparing experiences. This in turn hampers the ability to build on past research and record best practices, negatively impacting on the evolution of the field. Innovation in rethinking the paradigm of transitional justice is stifled because there are few settings where cross-disciplinary discourse can take place.
The International Journal of Transitional Justice aims to provide just such a forum for developing and sharing knowledge and for building and consolidating research expertise in this vital field of study. Most importantly, IJTJ serves as both a vehicle for this information and as a point of dialogue between activists, practitioners and academics. This dialogue is promoted by the format and structure of the journal. In addition to regular length articles, the journal has a section entitled ‘Notes from the Field’ which carries shorter practitioner focused articles, interviews, discussion papers, responses to earlier articles, practitioners’ reflections, creative writing and the presentation of new data.
‘Transitional justice’ is defined broadly so as to engage with a wide spectrum of civil society and government initiatives. This is of particular importance as the field itself continues to grow and evolve in concept and scope.
While truth seeking is perhaps the most commonly known instrument of transitional justice today and an increasingly regularized, if contested, element of the democratic transition of many states, countries are also choosing to employ locally inspired forums of justice. Internationally, prosecutorial responses to organized violence have similarly evolved in the past decade. Some of these developments include the advent of the International Criminal Court, the international tribunals in the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the Special Court in Sierra Leone, and increasing acceptance of universal jurisdiction for international crimes.
Bearing in mind these new developments, IJTJ seeks to be flexible enough to respond to dynamic growth in the field as well as to solicit articles from a range of fields and disciplines in order to encourage conversation and debate between diverse perspectives and methodologies.