Transitions in/to Democracy: Contemporary Chances and Challenges. The 2nd Annual Minerva Jerusalem Conference on Transitional Justice
Jerusalem, 29-31 October 2012
INTRODUCTION: The Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is holding an international conference that seeks to examine the diverse and complex interactions between transitional justice and democracy. The conference is scheduled for 29-31 October 2012, and will take place in Jerusalem.
Recipients of this call for papers are invited to submit proposals to present a paper at the conference. Authors of selected proposals will be offered full or partial flight and accommodation expenses.
Deadline for submission of proposals: 31 May 2012
BACKGROUND: Transitional justice is a powerful, evolving interdisciplinary field concerned with providing societies who have undergone collective and mass individual trauma - such as extended armed conflict, civil war, military rule, repressive and despotic regimes, genocide and other forms of systematic human rights violations - with processes, methods and mechanisms that cope with the effects of these experiences in order to create political transformation towards conditions of peace, political liberalization, and human rights protection. These processes and methods include, among others, criminal justice and accountability, institutional, political and rule-of law reform, truth-telling, reconciliation and reparation.
In 2011, the Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law launched a program dedicated to the study of Transitional Justice - the first and only such program in Israel. The program includes courses by local and international experts, workshops, internships, student field study trips abroad, research projects with leading international academic partners, a distinguished lecturer series - and an annual Minerva Jerusalem Conference on Transitional Justice. The inaugural conference, held in November 2011, was devoted to the topic of "The Potential Role of Transitional Justice in Ongoing Conflicts", with presentations by over 30 experts - scholars and practitioners - from around the world. The present call for papers is for the 2nd annual Minerva Jerusalem Conference on Transitional Justice.
CONFERENCE TOPIC: The relationship between the concepts of transitional justice, on one hand, and democracy, on the other, is complex and multifaceted. Much of the seminal literature and discourse on transitional justice focused on what has been called "paradigmatic transitions", i.e., dealing with past abuses by former authoritarian and other illegitimate regimes after a transition to democracy. This was the situation with respect to many of the former Communist states in Europe (including, of course, in the context of German unification) and military dictatorships in Latin America in the 1980s and 1990s. South Africa's emergence from the Apartheid era was also characterized by a fundamental shift to constitutional democracy. However, from a historical perspective, many dilemmas of transitional justice are not necessarily associated with transitions to democracy: justice and legal mechanisms have played a role also in non-democratic transitions - between autocracies, or from popular regimes to monarchies.
Moreover, democratic states encounter circumstances in which prolonged political violence, internal divisions and power differentials between social groups lead to wholesale human rights violations. This has been the case in 'conflicted democracies', such as Northern Ireland and Colombia. Furthermore, even established democracies benefiting from the rule of law and human rights may still face the problem of addressing past injustices. Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools and the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the US are salient examples. Indeed, it is difficult to find an existing democratic regime that is not somehow haunted by its past, whether transitional justice processes have been pursued or not - with respect to post colonialism, minority persecution, the treatment of indigenous peoples, systematic gender abuse and so on.
In the ongoing 'Arab Spring', different states display a range of social and political dynamics in the transition to democracy, encountering different obstacles, and in some cases raising the concern that political revolution will merely lead to the replacement of one illiberal regime by another - transition without democracy and without the upholding of human rights. In other regions, political transitions have been propped up by tenuously justified restrictions on democratic practices and principles, such as freedom of expression, revealing a counter-intuitive tension between democracy and transitional justice.
Considering this broad range of interactions, to what extent are transitional justice and democracy mutually reinforcing? How can this and further questions be analyzed from a political science perspective? Are there tensions between some transitional justice concepts and democratic principles? Are established and emerging democracies well-equipped to deal with their past? Which of the various accepted transitional justice processes are most relevant and effective in transitioning to democracy in general and in specific contexts? Which processes are more suitable for the needs of conflicted democracies, or for democracies addressing their pasts? What role can democracy play in addressing continued post-transition injustices towards particularly vulnerable groups, such as ethnic minorities, women and children? Which elements of transitional justice are best enshrined in democratic constitutional law? What roles can civil society play in conflicted democracies and in transitions to democracy? What can democracies learn from authoritarian transitions? What ought not to be imported from the experience of authoritarian transition contexts?
These and other related questions can be applied in many contemporary contexts. They also seem to be particularly important in the Israeli and Palestinian context(s): to what extent is Israel a 'conflicted democracy'? Should a transition from conflict to peace in Israel/Palestine bear the hallmarks of democratic constitutionalism? How could Israeli and Palestinian democracy be bolstered by transitional justice, and vice versa?
PURPOSE OF THE CONFERENCE: To address these and related questions, the Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem will hold a 3-day international conference - the 2nd annual Minerva Jerusalem Conference on Transitional Justice - employing a broad, interdisciplinary approach and utilizing the comparative experience of other societies and international experts. The discourse on transitional justice in Israel is still in its infancy, and this conference is intended to make a significant contribution with both local and global implications. We anticipate that the conference will result in the publication of a dedicated volume or journal issue on the topic.
PAPER SUBMISSION PROCEDURE: Researchers interested in addressing questions related to the topic of the conference, are invited to respond to this call for papers with a two-page proposal for an article and presentation, along with a one-page CV. Proposals should be submitted to the Minerva Center for Human Rights no later than 31 May 2012 via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Applicants should receive notification of the committee's decision by 25 June 2012. Written contributions (7,000-10,000 words long) based on the selected proposals will be expected by 10 October 2012.
CONFERENCE ACADEMIC COMMITTEE: Dr. Tomer Broude, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Chair); Dr. Phil Clark, SOAS, University of London; Dr. Hillel Cohen, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Dr. Pablo de Greiff, International Center for Transitional Justice; Adv. Sigall Horovitz, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof. Fionnuala Ni Aolain, University of Minnesota and TJI, University of Ulster; Prof. Mario Sznajder, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof. Ruti Teitel, New York Law School and LSE