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Transitional Justice




Admissions requirements

Successful completion of at least one of the following courses: – International Humanitarian Law – International and Regional Human Rights


This course introduces students to the mechanisms, impact, and critical debates about transitional justice. It discusses, from various disciplinary and empirical angles; how do societies which have gone through large-scale conflict, in the form of e.g. civil war, dictatorship or genocide; deal with a legacy of violence and human rights abuses?

Beyond an introduction of the concept of transitional justice and the history of practices associated with this term, the course has three parts. In Part I we examine some of the key mechanisms through which societies have dealt with a divisive past, such as criminal prosecutions, amnesty laws, truth commissions, vetting and memorials. In Part II we move on to assessing the impact of such processes of dealing with past injustices. Finally, in Part III we explore contemporary debates and criticisms surrounding this field of practice, related to the local-international interface; the timing of transitional justice processes; and how addressing the past should be balanced against other key transitional priorities such as economic recovery and socioeconomic justice.

Week 1: Introduction to the concept and history of transitional justice

Part I: The mechanisms
Week 2: Prosecutions – national, international and hybrid
Week 3: Truth commissions and amnesty laws
Week 4: Vetting, memorials and other mechanisms

Part II: The impact
Week 5(1): Peace vs. justice?
Week 5(2): Impact on violence and reconciliation
Week 6(1): Impact on democracy and human rights

Part III: Critical debates
Week 6(2): The local/international interface: Who owns the justice process?
Week 7(1): How timing matters: When should justice for past wrongs take place?
Week 7(2): Looking back vs. forward: How TJ relates to other transitional priorities.

Course objectives

By successfully completing this course, you will:

  • Become familiar with a variety of ways in which societies in transition tend to deal with a legacy of human rights violations,

  • Be able to assess strengths and weaknesses of different mechanisms of transitional justice,

  • Be able to account for key dilemmas and possible trade-offs societies face that come out of a history of conflict, and

  • Have gained skills in applying the terms and ideas related to transitional justice to real-world settings.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course will be delivered as a series of two weekly seminars over the course of seven weeks, that is Weeks 1-7 of the block. Week 8 will be reading week, so there will be 14 seminars in total. Seminars will consist of a lecture and various class activities.


  • Essay (the assessment of which will be worth 40% of the overall course grade);

  • Essay plan (10%),

  • Joint response paper and presentation in class (10%),

  • Individual blog (10%), and

  • Model UN exercise: participation in class (15%) and position paper (15%).


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Readings will be made available upon commencement of the course.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr Ingrid Samset:
Room: 4.22
Office hours: Thursdays 4-6 pm, or by appointment.