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Searching for Truth in the Transitional Justice Movement
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    Carlson, Kerstin Bree 2018. Model(ing) Justice.

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Searching for Truth in the Transitional Justice Movement examines calls for a truth commission to redress the brutal war during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, the decades-long armed conflict in Colombia, and US detention policies in the War on Terror. In so doing, it argues that transitional justice is an idea around which a loosely structured movement emerged and professionalized, making truth commissions a standard response to mass violence. By exploring how this movement developed, as well as efforts to make truth commissions in the Balkans, Colombia, and the US, this book explains different processes through which political actors translate new legal ideas such as transitional justice into political action. Further, it reveals how the malleability of transitional justice and truth commissions is both an asset and a liability for those hoping to ensure accountability, improve survivor well-being, and prevent future violence.


'Jamie Rowen is a raconteuse - a storyteller par excellence. In this vivid book, she tells the stories of people who animate human rights movements and people, hungry for justice, touched by those movements. Rare among academics, and so refreshing, Rowen’s book is less about best practices than it is about what is best for people. This work is an indispensable read. It gets us thinking about how to think about justice.'

Mark A. Drumbl - Director of the Transnational Law Institute, Washington and Lee University, Virginia

'This book is a much needed addition to the increasingly sophisticated literature on truth commissions. Jamie Rowen brings attention to the processes behind formation and operation of these institutions, and asks probing questions about the purpose, mandate, and accomplishments of a transitional justice mechanism we have come to take for granted. The book casts a wide net by carefully examining efforts to establish truth commissions in the Balkans, Colombia, and the United States, and will be required reading in the transitional justice field.'

Jelena Subotic - author of Hijacked Justice: Dealing with the Past in the Balkans

'Offering a timely entry into Transitional Justice conversations on the world stage, this book offers a brilliantly critical analysis of the surprising genealogies of the practices and institutions that came to represent the Transitional Justice toolkit. With her eloquence and profoundly elegant narrative style, Jaime Rowen offers a fascinating monograph of the political economies, aspirations, goals of the Transitional Justice concept and its afterlives. A must read for students of international law, justice, politics and the social history of a movement in the making whose presence is critically relevant to the contemporary period.'

Kamari M. Clarke - Carleton University, Canada

'The flexibility of legal concepts - intervention, transitional justice, and truth commissions - has spawned a loose movement of professionals who insert differing priorities into global justice. Rowen’s remarkable research across multiple continents uncovers a paradoxical truth of transitional justice: the 'continuing appeal' of truth commissions despite 'disappointing outcomes'. These findings are bracing and important for scholars and practitioners of international justice and human rights.'

Mark Fathi Massoud - author of Law’s Fragile State: Colonial, Authoritarian, and Humanitarian Legacies in Sudan

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