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PSRP Researcher Presenting: Aiding Transitional Justice

September 7, 2016 @ 2:00 pm - 5:30 pm

PSRP researcher Astrid Jamar will present a paper at the African Studies Association of the UK and Cambridge Center of African Studies Conference 2016 at the University of Cambridge, 7th to the 9th of September. Astrid will present on Wednesday 7th September at 2pm as part of the panel ‘Political Governance and Social Transformation After Mass Violence: Rwanda and Burundi in Comparative Perspective’, alongside fellow presenters Timothy Longman, Nina Wilén, Filip Reyntjens, Bert Ingelaere, Marijke Verpoorten, Benjamin Chemouni, with Rene Lemarchand as discussant.

Is Transitional Justice Locally or Globally Driven? Individuals, Policy Design and Implementation

Looking into transitional justice (TJ) processes in Rwanda and Burundi underlines how aid-dependent practitioners operate similarly in very different contexts. Investigating the processes reveals that these similarities go beyond cultural dimensions and regional proximity. An organisational approach to deal jointly with the two countries was evident in examples such as donor and NGO head offices having desk officers for the Great Lakes, in various regional offices covering both countries, and in practitioners interchanging their positions between the two. Consequently, technocratic approaches that were similar – brought in by international aid – shaped TJ policies to deal with the past in the two different countries. However, local social and political dynamics took over these global influences to shape the implementation of TJ. A scrutiny of everyday professional practices enables the differences and similarities between Rwanda and Burundi to be unpacked.

This paper will first present, in parallel, the policy framework, driving forces and encountered challenges of the Rwandan and Burundian TJ processes. Second, I will draw on the trajectory of four stereotypical practitioners to review how actors navigated localised contexts in implementing TJ. This will underline how legacies of the past, and social and political dynamics are crucial drivers, even if they have played out differently in these two contexts. The failure of aid-technocratic approaches to tackle local complexities when dealing with past violence ultimately leans on expatriate and national TJ practitioners. These lessons contribute to wider debates about political transformations in the aid-dependent countries of Rwanda and Burundi.

This presentation is part of the PSRP Peace Processes theme, and the Negotiating Peace project.

Registration details and website

Conference draft programme


September 7, 2016
2:00 pm - 5:30 pm
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African Studies Association of the UK
Cambridge Center of African Studies


Lecture Room 2 Robinson College
Grange Road
Cambridge, CB3 9AN United Kingdom
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