Injustice through Transitional Justice? Subversion Strategies in Burundi’s Peace Process and Postconflict Developments
Sidney LECLERCQ in The International Journal of Transitional Justice 2017, 0, 1–20. doi: 10.1093/ijtj/ijx017
Embedded in Burundi’s peace process, the creation of judicial and nonjudicial transitional justice (TJ) mechanisms promised truth, reconciliation and justice to the victims of crimes committed during conflict. Yet, an analysis of the dynamics of the localization of TJ reveals multiple subversion techniques mobilized by national and international actors, leading to counterproductive outcomes. This article explores these dynamics and formulates two arguments. First, these subversion techniques are the consequence of a double phenomenon. On the one hand, the conjunction of the normalization of TJ in the postconflict toolbox and the nature of the internationalization of Burundi’s peace process has made the pursuit of TJ inevitable. On the other, the incompatibilities between TJ and divergent priorities, interests and agendas have made its realization equally impossible. Secondly, this subversion has led to a triple form of (transitional) injustice: a denial of justice through ‘temporary immunities’; an absence of justice through a negotiation process more oriented towards noninception than the creation of TJ mechanisms; and a risk of biased justice through the modalities and timing of the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Conclusions of this article call for a greater questioning of the TJ model promoted and deeper research into the localization dynamics, especially in post peace-settlement contexts.