International Review of the Red Cross

International Criminal Tribunals
International Criminal Tribunals

Measuring the impact of punishment and forgiveness: a framework for evaluating transitional justice

Pierre Hazan 
The United States Institute of Peace, Washington, DC

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Truth commissions, international criminal tribunals, reparations, public apologies and other mechanisms of transitional justice are the new mantras of the post-cold-war era. Their purpose is to foster reconciliation in societies that have experienced widespread human-rights violations and to promote reform and democracy, the ultimate aim being to defuse tension. But to what degree are these mechanisms, which are financially and politically supported by the international community and NGOs, truly effective? Very little, in fact, is known about their impact. By examining the underlying hypotheses and workings of transitional justice and proposing a series of indicators to evaluate its results, this article helps to fill the gap.