Good Fences Make Good Neighbours: Assessing the Role of Consociational Politics in Transitional Justice
Power-Sharing: Empirical and Normative Challenges (Allison McCullough and John McGarry, eds., Routledge, Forthcoming 2017)
Posted: 21 Feb 2017
Date Written: February 20, 2017
This chapter reflects upon the relationship of transitional justice (TJ) theory and practice and consociational theory and practice to transitional solutions in deeply divided ethnic polities. We address the identity politics of transitional justice and the political forms that enable, define and consume transition with a particular hew to power-sharing and consociationalism-type arrangements in the aftermath of systematic atrocity or sustained repression. We provide a pragmatic, perhaps skeptical, account of the triumph of consociationalism as the preferred transitional accommodation, and point to the ‘dark side’ of governance arrangements in post-conflict settings with implications for understanding cycles of violence and repeat conflict patterns. We are particularly drawn to exploring the ways in which, despite substantive acknowledgement of the limits of consociationalism, it continues to be the preferred solution offered by internationally and bilaterally mediated peace negotiations as a means to address the governance crisis of deeply divided societies. We address a range of issues, including how transitional justice relates to different forms of power-sharing, the tensions in the peace vs. justice debates which are central to TJ theory and practice and how they interact with consociational forms of governance, the relationship between community vs. individual rights in consociational settlements, and how the emphasis on TJ theory and practice on ‘bottom-up, victim-led’ processes engages with consociational debate on grassroots vs. elite interactions. We map some of the positive and negative connections between transitional justice and consociationalism, and explore the meeting points between transitional justice, consociationalism and ethno-nationalism. We address some overlapping preoccupations that cut across both transitional justice and consociationalism, in particular their mutual engagement on elites, and explore how both could singularly and cooperatively benefit from a focus on the local.
Keywords: Transitional Justice, power-sharing, conflict, amnesty, accountability
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