The Role of African Civil Society in Shaping National Transitional Justice Agendas and Policies

Authors Hugo van der Merwe, Jasmina Bankovic

ISSN: 1996-2088
Affiliations: Head of Research, Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, South Africa; Senior Researcher, Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, South Africa
Source: Acta Juridica, 2016, p. 225 – 243


Drawing on practitioner perspectives on 20 years of transitional advocacy efforts in Africa, this article examines the different roles that local civil society has played in shaping national transitional justice processes on the Continent. The article discusses how local organisations adopt, adapt and resist international criminal justice concepts and institutions in their pursuit of accountability, redress and social transformation in their countries. After first examining why civil society organisations are critical in a transitional justice context, the article discusses the range of contributions made by civil society using typologies that seek to make sense of different dimensions of their work. The article then discusses the substantive versus process goals of African organisations, as well as the various stages of civil society engagement across a transitional justice process. It concludes with a reflection on some of the main challenges facing organisations working on transitional justice in the region, particularly in developing and maintaining a locally relevant vision for transitional justice in each country.