ICWC-Monatskolloquium Juni 2019

Es ergeht herzliche Einladung zum Vortrag von Timothy Williams und Julie Bernath


12. Juni 2019 16:00 – 12. Juni 2019 18:00

Alte Universität, Raum 01010, Lahntor 3

Justice and Reconciliation for the Victims of the Khmer Rouge?

Victim Participation in Cambodia's Transitional Justice Process

When the horror of mass atrocities ends, the physical violence itself may have finished, but the society will continue to be marked by the scars of this violence for years or decades to come. Similarly, the victims who have survived this ordeal, but lost loved ones and suffered themselves, must live on with the memory and consequences of what has happened. Given their experiences, victims should be central to any post-conflict attempts at dealing with the past. As such, it is a welcome development that over the past few years greater attention has been given to victims of mass atrocities in transitional justice processes by researchers, practitioners and policy-makers, and there have been increased calls to include victims in these processes. Pablo de Greiff, United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, has argued that victim participation has become a “mantra” in the field of transitional justice, but that this rhetorical commitment is not matched by actual practice, and that furthermore there is a lack of systematic analysis of the relevant experiences.

Our research aims to understand victims’ perceptions of justice and reconciliation in post-conflict Cambodia and how their inclusion in the transitional justice process has influenced this. This is of particular interest as many resources and hopes have been invested in enabling victim participation to a large degree in the transitional justice process in Cambodia, both at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) as well as in broader civil society projects. As such, this report asks the question: What effect does the inclusion of civil parties at the ECCC, moral and collective reparations, as well as broader civil societal dealing with the past have on the perception of justice and reconciliation in Cambodia? By answering this question, our research provides a more nuanced perspective on various victims’ understandings of justice and reconciliation, how they perceive the transitional justice process and its meaning for justice and reconciliation, what meaning their inclusion in the process has and how it has empowered them, as well as what this can mean for the future.
We pursue a mixed methods approach and have collected data across Cambodia between January and June 2018. The mixed method approach began with a survey between January and April 2018 with 439 victims of the Khmer Rouge, selected using stratified random sampling. Respondents included an array of different civil parties, who participated to various degrees in the ECCC proceedings: civil party representatives or focal points, civil parties who testified, civil parties who participated in reparation projects, civil parties from all Cases, and civil party applicants whose applications had been rejected. Furthermore, complainants at the ECCC, participants in NGO projects, as well as people who have not participated in the transitional justice process were included in the survey. In a second step in May and June 2018, we then conducted follow-up, in-depth interviews with 65 of these individuals based on their responses, in order to gain insights on a diverse spectrum of perspectives. This data was complemented by 21 interviews with transitional justice professionals in Phnom Penh between January and March 2018.


Timothy Williams (Universität Marburg, Zentrum für Konfliktforschung), Julie Bernath (Universität Marburg, Zentrum für Konfliktforschung)


Internationales Forschungs- und Dokumentationszentrum Kriegsverbrecherprozesse (ICWC) an der Philipps-Universität Marburg