Gender, Truth & Transition

Authored by: Fionnuala Ní Aoláin and Catherine Turner

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Political Transitions, Transitional Justice
Region: No Region
Year: 2012
Citation: Ní Aoláin, Fionnuala, and Catherine Turner. "Gender, Truth & Transition." UCLA Women's Law Journal 16 (2007): 229–79.

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Executive Summary

In societies transitioning from conflict or repressive politics, the construction of truth matters. That truth is usually excavated by examination and accountability for the past, specifically by structured examination of serious human rights violations. This backward looking approach is identified as central to the capacity for damaged societies to transform, thereby rebuilding political and social trust. Truth is then poised on the precipice of past and future, deeply contested, but essentially unavoidable as a political matter. Because of this emphasis on dealing with the past, the morality and law of holding human rights abusers accountable at the point of societal change has been central to transitional justice discourse. As a result, the place where most academics and others place their emphasis is on the legal and non-legal settings that operate to satisfy the need for restitution as well as the necessity of moving forward in transitional societies.6 It makes sense therefore that trials, courts, truth commissions, amnesties, and the degree and form of punishment should all be the primary focus of interest. Missing has been any substantial analysis on how and where gender fits within this institutional scheme. This article redresses those lacunae with a probing analysis of the gender deficit evident in transitional accountability mechanisms, particularly in truth telling processes.