About Justice Visions
The question of how to serve justice, facilitate peaceful transitions and empower victims of past large-scale abuses is about as old as the field of transitional justice (TJ) itself. Increasingly practitioners are turning to participatory approaches as a promising way to make advances regarding each of these issues. An oft-cited benefit of victim participation in TJ processes is that it allegedly increases the legitimacy of these processes by rendering them more locally relevant, and that it empowers participants and turns them into ambassadors of the justice process.
However, little is known about how to organize this participation in practice or under which conditions alleged benefits (for individual victims-participants or for society at large) are likely to materialize. As a result, participation is often organized with little critical reflection about potential unforeseen or long-term effects. Because formal and informal transitional justice processes often face significant practical, financial and political constraints, it is crucial to better understand how participatory approaches can contribute to a positive and lasting legacy.
This project understands victim participation in a multi-dimensional way, looking beyond participation in formal and often highly-scripted institutional spaces. We examine how the various spaces and processes in which victims are active over time, as part of their struggle for justice, can become mutually reinforcing, which erasures emerge and are resisted, and which new practices develop along the way that can help us better understand the dynamics and potential unforeseen effects of various kind of participation and engagement.
Our research findings push the academic debate about victim participation in new directions and provide policy-makers with empirically supported insights.
The Justice Visions project is funded by the European Research Council (VictPart 804154), the Special Research Fund (iBOF/21/031), the Fulbright Foundation, and the FWO.