Justice in Action: Assessing the Institutional Design and Implementation of Transitional Justice
AuthorMiller, Jennifer Lee
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThere is a growing literature in political science that focuses on the impact that policies, or mechanisms, of transitional justice (e.g. tribunals, truth commissions, and amnesty laws) have on future human rights abuses and democratization processes. However, this literature fails to differentiate between having a policy on the books and having a policy which is actually implemented. My project attempts for the first time to measure and assess how well two distinct types of transitional justice policies, truth commissions and ad-hoc tribunals, are designed and how well they are implemented. Variation in terms of policy structure (or institutional design) and implementation are currently unknown; knowing what the level of this variation is will enable us to understand the impact these transitional justice policies have on state-level human rights behavior. To conduct this analysis, I first offer a derivation of principal-agent theory and then assemble a new dataset of measures culled from primary and secondary data sources on over 40 different courts and truth commissions. For the data on the institutional design of these transitional justice policies, I collected and translated the legal mandates which create courts or commissions. I then coded the power, authority, and resource allocations which are designated in these mandates. For the data on implementation, I collected primary commission and court reports as well as secondary analyses and tracked the various activities and forms of engagement which were utilized in the process of carrying out each policy. These data were then compiled with a full set of economic, political, and social context measures and analyzed to determine whether policies with (1) more allocated authority/power or resources or (2) better implementation produced greater improvements in respect for human rights or reduced the likelihood of having additional instances of rights violations. Overall, I find that design and implementation measures are not strongly related to greater rights improvements or the reduced likelihood of violations, indicating that whatever positive changes may exist are not likely due to transitional justice practices. However, the use of transitional justice policies following human rights abuses is correlated with more positive outcomes. The ultimate goal of this project was to determine whether these policies can deliver justice and to initiate a dialogue on whether domestic populations are well served by high-cost policies (such as courts or commissions) or whether these priorities should be tabled in favor of addressing more immediate needs of these groups. The results of this dissertation appear to support the latter claim although these findings remain preliminary.
Degree ProgramGraduate College