Transitional justice explores and evaluates how victims, communities, and societies can overcome conflict, authoritarianism, colonialism, or structural violence and move towards more peaceful, democratic, equitable, and human rights compliant futures. The Law School at Queen’s University Belfast has longstanding expertise in transitional justice, and today hosts a vibrant community of transitional justice academics and doctoral researchers. Research within this grouping, has of course been inspired by and continues to contribute to efforts to deal with the legacy of past violence in and about Northern Ireland. Through this research, the School has sought to share theoretical insights and practical lessons from the experiences of the NI peace process with international audiences and to use theoretical knowledge and empirical findings from other contexts to inform local efforts to deal with the past. Transitional justice researchers within the school also engage in empirical research in transitional societies in Africa, Asia, South America, and the Middle East as well as seeking to use transitional justice theory to inform approaches to other forms of historical abuse or contemporary global challenges, notably climate change.
Transitional justice is a rich interdisciplinary field, and our research within the School also covers a rich range of thematic areas. These include:
- interrogating the intersections between transitional justice and peacebuilding, international criminal justice, environmental justice and post-colonialism
- examining how different actors and constituencies within transitional societies seek to use law and policy approaches to legacy issues such as victimhood, truth, and institutional reform, and to consider how law, administration and policy can help societies move towards more inclusive approaches to the past
- key transitional justice mechanisms and processes including truth recovery; reparations, including land and property restitution; memorialisation, including ‘dark tourism’ and cultural property; apologies; restorative justice; international criminal justice; and amnesties
- exploring the intersections between legal, political, economic, social, and cultural dimensions of transitions, particularly where they pertain to gendered and socio-economic violence and discrimination
The contributions of the transitional justice community at Queen’s Law School go beyond an extensive range of academic publications, and include, publishing leading handbooks on the field, collaborative comparative research projects, an annual doctoral conference for transitional justice researchers and co-leading the United Kingdom and Ireland Transitional Justice Network. The School also makes a significant contribution to international and national transitional justice policy (through amicus briefs, submissions to public consultations and inquiries, policy-orientated reports, guidelines, and ‘model’ legislation on dealing with the past) and public debate on dealing with the past (through blogs, media engagement, stakeholder meetings, and public events).