“Constructing Sustainable Reconciliation: Land, Power, and Transitional Justice in Post-Genocide Rwanda”
Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, 2007.
This paper explores the linkages between economic development and transitional justice within the context of post-genocide Rwanda. It argues that transitional justice institutions offer not merely a set of neutral instruments for the achievement of the goals of justice, truth and reconciliation. Rather, such mechanisms serve to narrate conflict and peace, victimhood and violence, voice and silence, "tolerable" structural violence and definitively intolerable physical atrocity. Although a government may separately pursue development options, the redistribution of land, or other plans for economic change, one argument made here is that the divorce of those programmes from transitional justice mechanisms allows a myth to be formed that the origins of conflict are political or ethnic rather than economic or resource-based, that inequality is a question of time or development rather than the entrenched ideology of elites, or that the need to memorialize the past does not require the narration of past economic oppression.
The paper begins with the assumption that post-conflict reconstruction must also be viewed in the terms of conflict prevention. The author argues that—for engaged internationals in particular—a new paradigm must be advanced that takes economic factors into account as reconciliation questions and which moves reconciliation mechanisms beyond the rhetoric of the conflict and into new discursive and practical realms.
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