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An Analysis Of Transitional Justice In Peace Building Politics Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 1576 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Peace building refers to a set of strategies aimed at ensuring disputes, armed conflicts and other crises do not occur in the first place or do not subsequently occur after an initial one happens. State repression, insurgencies, civil wars continue to ravage millions of people all over the world. Various international and humanitarian organizations have marshaled their resources to help in providing of material or moral aid. The UN and other bodies such as NATO have set up in war-ravaged countries many peacekeeping programs. The aim of these interventions is to provide practical protection to the ordinary people for in such countries; the state machinery cannot provide the much-needed security. This paper discusses international peace-building concepts of responsibility to protect, security sector reform, capacity building, reconciliation and transitional justice in peace building.

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Responsibility to protect is applicable in cases of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. The dire situations witnessed in Somali, Kosovo and the Rwandan genocide is a wakeup call for the international community to step up its efforts at protecting vulnerable citizens during peace building processes (Ignatief 451). Protection of citizen by peace building organizations in war-ravaged or unstable countries nevertheless continues to face much resistance. Several war-ravaged states barely acknowledge the bodies’ conscientiousness to intervene in such states. It is therefore imperative that the international community develops standards upon which such intervention must proceed. These guidelines should spell out state and intergovernmental practices regarding responsibility to protect civilians during conflicts.

Large-scale loss of lives or ethnic cleansing, are some factors that should lead to human life protection claims by the international community. A compromise must be reached between the concept of sovereignty of the state and the emerging principles of human rights and security before military intervention to protect human life (Ignatief 451). New approaches towards protection in peace building must also set clear rules and procedures on when, where and how to intervene. The approach must help eliminate the causes of conflict and aim at achieving sustainable peace and intervene in cases of human rights violations. The approach must have military intervention as the last resort; only when all other avenues have failed. When faced with human protection claims, the three-fold responsibility of preventing, reacting and rebuilding must be asserted by the international community.

Reconciliation and Transitional Justice in Peace Building

Grievances between different groups in countries have led to riots, protests, and even wars. Countries emerging from such crises have within them citizens in different factions who harboring hatred and animosity for one another. As such, there is a lot of tension between them. Transitional justice plays an important role in reconciling such warring communities. Truth, justice, and reconciliation commissions are formed therein to examine the causes of such conflicts and spearhead reconciliation. The most common causes often turn out to be economic, cultural, or social in nature. Reconciliation may be within a single state, between two states or, as in history, post cold-war reconciliation.

Transitional justice theory functions to establish the rule of law and respect for human right using both judicial and non-judicial mechanisms to address atrocities. These mechanisms include prosecuting human right violators, revealing truths of past crimes, government reforms and compensation for victims. Transitional justice thus looks at both the past crimes and oppressions as well as seeking peace for the future. It also addresses the socio-economic causes of poverty, exclusions, and inequality in.

Truth and reconciliation often give peace a chance and supports processes of democratization of a state. Being an example of mechanisms for transitional justice, it contributes to long-term political and economic transformations. Truth commissions also sets political agendas for future social justice reforms aimed at true conflict prevention in the future (Laplante 331). The commissions thus provide platform for the local populace to air and solve their grievances. The commissions issue recommendations that act as paths towards addressing the root causes of such conflicts and atrocities. Justice must also be done and be seen to be so in order for reconciliation to serve its purpose.

Capacity Building in Peace Building

The efforts aimed at strengthening governments, institutions, individuals and systems in conflict areas during peace building is referred to as capacity building. Capacity building in general entails installing democratic governance, rule of law and sustainable development. Provision of safe and secure environment, empowering of the civil society, reforming the justice system, and establishing locally owned economic base are the basis of capacity building. The functions of the justice and security system must be made sufficient to serve the citizens. The challenge faced by the international community is who decides when a state has failed to provide for and protect its population.

Capacity building is an area of great concern to the international community in peace building measures. Micro-level capacity building targets individuals while macro-level targets institutions and governments sectors. Through capacity building, the government organs are strengthened. The government or its institutions are then better able to face the challenges of maintaining the peace achieved so far. The strengthening is followed by implementation and monitoring of the progress of the institutions. The local community is trained or informally educated on how to monitor the progress of the institution. The public service sector is of great interest as far as capacity building is concerned. The capacity of both public and civil service sectors to monitor and implement peace building has to be improved in post-conflict areas.

Security Sector Reform Peace Building

Conflicts in countries often result in dysfunctional security apparatus that cannot adequately provide security to the people. The security system in most cases uses oppressive rule on citizens perceived to be rebellious. The security sector in turn may become the source of terror to its own citizens. Security sector reform is therefore an aimed at rebuilding the security sector of a country so that enough protection is accorded to the populace. The security sector should thus be reformed to provide a conducive environment for development, democratic practices, and peace in general.

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The humanitarian and international community must therefore play its role in reforming the security sectors of war-ravaged states. This must be aimed at offering the citizens an enabling environment for peace and development. There are various types of security sector reforms but the most common one is the post-conflict security reforms. The other situations that might call for security reform are transitional or developing countries. After conflicts, there are always disorganized political institutions and the security structures need to be rebuilt for efficiency.

The security sector entails the state’s security, the justice system, and the civilian institutions that are responsible for their management. Reforms in security sector must involve all stakeholders such as the armed forces, the international community, and civilian groups. Reforms may include modernizing the armed forces by acquiring new weapons and re-organizing the structure of the military and the police. Proper financing and personnel headcount that provide adequate security to the citizens need to be put in place. The defense, police, and prison department must all be reformed at the same time since all are security sectors. The culture of impunity must be eradicated and security sector made accountable. The situation becomes very tricky in post-conflict situations since challenges of disarmament, integration of former combatants, and rehabilitation of child-soldiers abound. The application of the rule of law is paramount during these reforms since security reform can only work under lawful environment.


The international community has played an important role in returning the lives of people in conflict ravaged countries to normalcy. Humanitarian and military interventions to create peace have been instrumental in this approach. Capacity building of institutions and governments of such countries has improved their ability to see the transitional justice take effect in availing a democratic environment for peaceful coexistence. Reconciliation between the warring factions also discourages the re-occurrence of such conflicts between people who hitherto lived peacefully. Security sector reform has emerged as a key concept that is increasingly accepted by the international community. It is a precondition for good governance, security, protection of human rights, and the achievement of long-lasting peace. In all these interventions, state sovereignty is conditional upon a state’s ability to provide for and protect its people.


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