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Politics of Reparations of Victim Organisations in Transitional Justice Processes

Tafel zur Wahrheitskommission in Timor Leste aus der Ausstellung von Chega in Dili
Tafel zur Wahrheitskommission in Timor Leste

Although international research on transitional justice has focused on the role of victims and their institutional participation in recent years, only few studies have investigated the selectivity of reparation policies. This is remarkable, because, first, studies have outlined that victims only selectively receive compensations in transitional justice processes, although since the early 2000s an international norm on victim reparations has emerged. Second, it is well established that victims of gross human rights violations prioritize compensation. Thus, frustrations about the non-implementation of reparations might increase conflict potential in a transitional society. Yet there have been very few comparative and theorizing studies on the selective implementation of victim reparations in transitional justice.

On that background the project is concerned with the politics of reparation of victim organizations, their aims and means. We focus on administrative reparations, decided by governments without ignoring that reparations ordered by the court might have an impact on the public debates about reparations. We want to test three approaches to explain the selectivity of reparation policies. Based on that, we develop hypotheses on causal mechanisms for positive reparation outcomes. The project compares politics of reparations in four cases each representing different violent pasts: Guatemala for an anti-regime war, Morocco for state repression, Northern Ireland for an identity based conflict, and Timor Leste for a secessionist war. The aim of the project is to identity causal factors that are responsible for the compensation of victims of past political violence in order to contribute to frequently claimed theorization in transitional justice research. The project uses qualitative and comparative research methods including process tracing.

Duration: 2020-2023
Funder: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Coordination: Prof. Dr. Thorsten Bonacker
Team: Kim Baudewijns, Pia FalschebnerDr. Eva Willems, Ida Forbriger, Elisabeth Winterer