Justice after Mass Atrocities: Truth-seeking, Retribution, Reparation
What happens to societies after genocide and mass atrocities? How do survivors pick up their lives in the aftermath of mass killings and war crimes? Can one come to terms with mass atrocities committed against one's family and ethnic/racial group? Can one forgive and reconcile?
This course will introduce students to the field of transitional justice which is an interdisciplinary field of study focusing on processes of dealing with past human rights violations and the transition to more peaceful and democratic states. The course deals with questions that arise in countries emerging from armed conflict or from periods of authoritarian or repressive rule. It will focus on strategies available to societies in the aftermath of massive violations of human rights to re-establish the rule of law and build sustainable peace.
The course will introduce students to the evolution of transitional justice theory and practice, including truth commissions, trials and traditional practices, in such contexts as post-apartheid South Africa and post-genocide Bosnia, Cambodia, Germany and Rwanda. The course will raise a series of thought-provoking questions such as how mass atrocities affect states and their neighbors? What lessons did the UN learn from its experiences in dealing with mass atrocities? What are the pros and cons of prosecuting individuals for mass atrocities? Can multi-million international courts bring justice to survivors of war crimes?
Olivera Simić is Associate Professor with the Griffith Law School, Griffith University, Australia and Visiting Fellow with Transitional Justice Institute, Ulster University, Belfast. Olivera published numerous articles, book chapters and books. In 2017, with a group of transitional justice experts, she published the first textbook in transitional justice, “An Introduction to Transitional Justice” (Routledge). Her latest monograph “Silenced Victims of Wartime Sexual Violence” was published by Rutledge in 2017. After working for many years with survivors of mass atrocities, Olivera is currently working on a project that looks at what happens to individuals who served their sentence for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanities. In 2018 together with Assoc/Prof Barbora Hola, Oliver co-edited a special issue titled "ICTY Celebrities: War Criminals Coming Home" which analysis the accused and how these individuals define, happy and carry on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) legacies. At the moment, she is working on a monograph about Biljana Plavsic, the only woman prosecuted for crimes against humanity by the ICTY.