Author Archives: Ingrid Roestenburg-Morgan

Ingrid Roestenburg-Morgan

About Ingrid Roestenburg-Morgan

Ingrid is a South African lawyer and a Ph.D Researcher at the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights. Her focus falls on issues of transitional justice, international human rights law and international criminal justice, specifically as they relate to Africa.

The Proof is in the Pudding: The Value of Traditional Justice Mechanisms for Post Conflict Africa

justiceThe dynamics of contemporary conflicts reveal the difficulties inherent in countries transitioning from conflict to peace and has given birth to transitional justice. The latter is the field of study where justice is not relegated to criminal or retributive justice only but to a holistic range of processes, the ambit of which includes accountability, truth recovery and reconciliatory processes.  Kofi Anan former UN Secretary General defines transitional justice as the “ full set of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempts to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale past abuse, in order to secure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation.”  In keeping within these processes and within this framework, particularly with regard to Africa, there has been resurgence in the use of traditional or local justice mechanisms.  In this blog I will thus briefly attempt to highlight the political contingencies that certain states face, which catalyze the use of traditional justice mechanisms and make it so popular within the African transitional justice landscape. I will contend that in some instances traditional mechanisms can adequately address massive human rights violations and establish peace and reconciliation in post-conflict settings. I suggest that the value of traditional justice within politically laden contexts is that they act as catalysts for the promotion of unity. They draw on cultural and religious linkages of interconnectedness that are of value to many African societies, such as the way in which ubuntu was ingrained in the TRC process and the traditional strands of Gacaca conformed into a modern version of Gacaca. This therefore, arguably creates a more “culturally familiar and socially secure” space for people to participate in.   Continue reading