1. Introduction: Does Transitional Justice Lead to Reconciliation?
3. Research Methods
4. State-Level Effects of Prosecutions, Truth Commissions and Reparations on Human Rights, Democracy and Peace (1970-2015)
5. Reconciliation in Colombia
6. Reconciliation for Victims in Colombia
7. Reconciliation for Afro-Colombian (Ethnic) and Collective Subjects
8. Alternative Explanations: Institutions and Other Contextual Factors
*Chapters 2, 3, 5 and 6 are available to read upon request
My dissertation is titled, "Punishing Perpetrators: The Productive Role of Retributive Justice in Reconciliation." My dissertation research contributes to intensifying debates about the causes and consequences of different approaches to transitional justice. A core debate in human rights, transitional justice and post-conflict reconstruction is about the legitimacy, pragmatism and efficacy of retributive vs. restorative approaches to transitional justice. The conventional wisdom is that retributive justice, most associated with criminal prosecutions, impedes peace and reconciliation in transitional societies. Many academics and policy makers argue that restorative justice, most associated with truth commissions and reparations, is the most effective way to bring about reconciliation. Despite the global diffusion of the restorative justice discourse and the widespread adoption of truth commissions and reparations policies, there is little evidence that restorative justice “works” to bring about promised outcomes.
I resolve debates about the efficacy of retributive vs. restorative justice in two parts. In the first part, I examine the cross-national effects of criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, and reparations on human rights and peace. Because there are no cross-national measures of reconciliation, I turn to individual-level, attitudinal data to evaluate transitional justice’s effects on reconciliation. I conduct an experimental field survey in Colombia to test if, how and under what conditions criminal punishment, non-criminal punishment, material reparations, symbolic reparations and narrative truth change citizens’ attitudes about and propensity towards reconciliation. To measure reconciliation, I create the Reconciliation of Human Rights and Tolerance Scale (R-HRTS). R-HRTS consists of 31 items that measure (1) respect for human rights and rule of law culture; (2) social tolerance; and (3) political tolerance.
Contra the literature which argues that retributive justice impedes reconciliation, I find that retributive justice has a strong, positive effect on citizens’ attitudes about and propensity towards reconciliation. Respondents in the criminal punishment treatment group have more positive attitudes about reconciliation than respondents in the non-criminal punishment, reparations, and narrative truth treatment groups. I show that when citizens hear that confessed war-criminals are punished with incarceration, they judge that the state and society respect human rights and rule of law culture and are more willing to accept unpopular former conflict actors into their social environments - and consequentially have a higher propensity towards reconciliation. The findings complement recent statistical studies, which examine the state-level effects of transitional justice mechanisms on human rights and peace (but not reconciliation) and find that criminal prosecutions improve human rights and duration of peace. I also investigate how experience with rights violations, ethnicity and contextual factors (i.e. institutions) alter the relationship between transitional justice mechanisms and reconciliation. Over the next few months, I will continue to think and write about what these findings mean for human rights, democracy and peace in Colombia and other transitional societies.
National Science Foundation (NFS) - Supported Experimental Field Survey
During spring of 2017, I implemented an experimental field survey in the northwestern Departments of Antioquia and Choco, Colombia. The survey assesses what citizens think about rights and remedies and the transformative potential of different types of justice. Using records from the National Center for Historical Memory, I created animated vignettes that tell the story of a former combatant facing justice for his involvement in a massacre. Respondents are randomly assigned retributive or restorative justice interventions, which complete the story of what happens to the perpetrator. Then, respondents are asked questions that identify and measure reconciliation, social cohesion and peace outcomes. To measure reconciliation, I create the Reconciliation of Human Rights and Tolerance Scale (R-HRTS). R-HRTS consists of 31 items that measure (1) respect for human rights and rule of law culture; (2) social tolerance; and (3) political tolerance.