This three-credit course will be co-taught by Dr. Kathy Powers, of the UNM Political Science Department, and Professor Jennifer Moore, of the UNM School of Law. It is open to JD students and other UNM graduate students, especially but not limited to those pursuing degrees in Political Science, Sociology and Latin American Studies.
For law students, International Law is a pre-requisite. The course will not meet the Law School writing seminar requirement. Evaluation will be based upon a combination of class presentations and the submission of two or more essays on relevant themes.
For grad students in other departments, completion of International Law or a course in International Relations is recommended.
Transitional justice [TJ] refers to a broad spectrum of legal, political and social mechanisms established to help bridge the divide between violence and peace in societies emerging from protracted armed conflicts or periods of political repression characterized by widespread human rights abuses. As a legal term of art, TJ frequently denotes war crimes prosecutions and truth commissions to hold war criminals accountable and to establish the historical record. Nevertheless, the concept has a number of essential additional dimensions. Within the field of political science, TJ is a set of institutions as well as a social movement that emerged from a growing international consensus that impunity is no longer acceptable. Transitional justice advocates demand reparations for victims and survivors, as well as accountability for perpetrators. Incorporating the contributions of alternative dispute resolution, TJ encompasses community reconciliation programs and grassroots purification ceremonies. From the standpoint of social work and socio-economic development, TJ demands broad-based reforms in the health care, education, employment and commercial sectors.
No matter the academic or applied perspective, transitional justice theorists and practitioners must struggle with fundamental questions regarding the relationship between retributive and restorative justice and the proper role of reparations. The ultimate challenge to the theory and practice of transitional justice is whether the mechanisms of post-conflict reconstruction have a transformative impact upon the integrity, equality, agency and wellbeing of the most vulnerable persons in the society, including, women, youth, displaced persons and ethnic and social minorities.
The course will build on a foundation of international legal principles and political science (Week 1), explore the contributions of human rights law, international criminal law and the peace and reconciliative justice movements to transitional justice (Weeks 2-5), touch on the difference between quantitative and qualitative methods in political science (Week 6), address the prevalence of gender-based violence in armed conflict (Week 7), explore the work of truth commissions and reparations movements (Weeks 8-12), and end with consideration of amnesties and other attempts at reform of the security systems in countries emerging from long-term violence and repression into more vibrant, inclusive and democratic societies (Weeks 13-14).