CFP: Contesting Transitional Justice Conference, Coventry University (Deadline: June 4, 2017)

CFP: Contesting Transitional Justice Conference, Coventry University
Deadline: June 4, 2017

Contesting Transitional Justice Conference – 8th September 2017

The Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR) at Coventry University is pleased to announce a call for papers for their forthcoming academic conference entitled Contesting Transitional Justice: Radical Perspectives. This one-day conference to be convened at Coventry University, London Campus, University House, 109-117 Middlesex Street London E1 7JF will bring together academics, doctoral students, practitioners and policymakers from across disciplines to engage with contemporary contestations on transitional justice in order to contribute to the ever-growing scholarship in this field.


In the last four decades, the transitional justice paradigm has raised ideological, ethical and methodological dilemmas in its efforts to respond to the many conceptions of justice in post-conflict situations.  During that period, a proliferation of Western, externally-driven, legalistic and state-centric mechanisms have been instituted across the globe as part of confronting the legacies of the past. Implicit in these interventions has been the promotion of liberal democracy, a market economy, constitutionalism, the rule of law, and a narrow understanding of human rights. Such approaches have led to contestations around the preference for and perpetuation of this global hegemonic narrative of liberalism superimposed over local, historical and cultural understandings of justice. The assumption of the superiority of liberal democratisation has oftentimes eclipsed decolonial agendas, with white supremacy, non-resolution of key colonial injustices and coloniality of knowledge continuing side-by-side with formal democracy in many post-conflict contexts, particularly in the Global South. This liberal framework premised on global imperial designs and colonial matrices of power has become an obstacle in confronting contemporary challenges faced by many victims and survivors of conflict.  Increasingly, transitional justice scholars have pointed to the failure of many donor-driven transitional justice initiatives to deliver a form of justice that is meaningful to the worldviews of victims and survivors of atrocity. The focus on accountability for violations of civil and political rights has resulted in the exclusion of issues of past and on-going economic inequality and structural violence.  Lessons from these interventions lead to the argument that transitional justice must encompass an agenda deliberately focussed on the socio-economic challenges that are related to the root causes of many violent conflicts.

Without doubt, victims and survivors occupy a central place in transitional justice, and therefore addressing their needs and interests remains at the core of the innumerable interventions. Various transitional justice scholars point to the pressing priority for a transformative approach to transitional justice, one that is sensitive to issues of identity, culture and resources, and rooted in local practices and understandings of justice. In such approaches, the involvement of local communities, including victims and survivors, in decision-making about how to deal with the legacy of the past and active engagement with the process of transitional justice arguably become key to its success. However, the notion of victimhood, often understood in a western and individualised way, raises further questions as to whether it is an adequate strategy for transforming victims’ situations based on a limited understanding of victims’ experiences. This is even more so in terms of the inclusion of gendered experiences of conflict, which are often narrowed down to an understanding of sexual violence as the gendered war experience – thus ignoring wider gendered experiences of conflict and men’s and women’s agency. Given the extraordinary range of experiences and cultures involved, the quest for the design and implementation of context-specific approaches to justice grounded in local capacities for peace has gained currency within scholarship. Such shifts have also opened up discussions on the role of transitional justice in the broader peacebuilding agenda.


The conference will be organised around the following five key themes. Doctoral researchers are highly encouraged to submit papers.

  • To what extent does the normative framework of transitional justice allow socio-economic injustices to be addressed?
  • In what ways and on whose terms is the participation of victims and survivors in transitional justice encouraged?
  • How can transitional justice better respond to the challenges of postcolonial perspectives?
  • How and to what extent can transitional justice incorporate multiple identities and cultures into its approaches?
  • How successfully does liberal peacebuilding tackle the challenges in societies recovering from violent conflicts and mass repression?

Submission of abstracts:

4 June 2017

Details to include with submission:

200-300 words submitted in word format to Charlotte Martin:  with the following information:

  • Title of paper
  • Author’s name and affiliation
  • Short bio highlighting any relevant publications

Kindly note that there will be no charges for attending the conference, but participants have to meet their own travel costs.