Eroding the Barrier between 'Peace' and 'Justice': Effects of Transitional Justice Mechanisms on Post-Conflict Stability

Nathan Ricci, Providence College

This working paper was originally published by CEMPROC (The Center for Mediation, Peace, and Resolution of Conflict - International, Inc.), and can be seen on their web site at: .


The emergence of the International Criminal Court over the last decade has reinvigorated the debate surrounding the efficacy of retributive justice over restorative justice in response to mass humanitarian crises. This study seeks to inquire into the situation further, examining the following question: what factors are primarily responsible for establishing sustainable peace in a s post-conflict State that has experienced a “mass humanitarian crisis” (i.e.’ mass killings, genocide, or crimes against humanity)? While much of the literature focuses on the benefits of restorative justice mechanisms (e.g., amnesty) over retributive justice mechanisms (e.g., trials). Or vice versa, I hypothesize that a hybrid utilization of both is most efficacious in order to sustain peace in a post-conflict State. Using a mixed method approach, I first analyze a group of 25 test cases, analyzing the effect of restorative and retributive justice on their political sustainability. I then look into three individual case studies of El Salvador, Rwanda, and Mozambique, in order to see which mechanisms worked best for the individual country’s particular situation. While the data suggests a broad link between the hybrid model and political stability, there are intervening factors (such as culture and outlook of international legitimacy) which are also at work. Nonetheless, it is probable to conclude, as a policy option, that mechanisms of both restorative and retributive justice tend to work best for these post-conflict States, as well as States with similar political and cultural situations.