Political Science, Department of


Politics of Pursuing Justice in the Aftermath of Civil Conflict

Nam Kyu Kim, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Mi Hwa Hong, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Document Type Article

Copyright (c) 2016 Nam Kyu Kim and Mi Hwa Hong


Why do some states pursue transitional justice in the immediate aftermath of armed conflict while others do not? What drives a state to select a particular type of justice mechanism over another? Building on the political explanations of transitional justice, we argue that post-conflict justice decisions are driven by the interests and power of political elites shaped by recently ended conflicts. Our empirical analysis shows that conflict outcomes and their subsequent impact on the balance of power between the government and rebel groups are the most important determinants of post-conflict justice decisions. Domestic trials are most likely to emerge out of a decisive, one-sided victory while truth commissions and reparations are most likely to occur after a negotiated settlement. We also find that conflict severity interacts with conflict outcomes to affect post-conflict justice decisions.