The relationship between transitional justice and democracy is fraught and complex, and nowhere more so than in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Iraq has experienced a range of transitional justice initiatives, including the trial and execution of its former leader, purges of the civil service and the military, and a series of reconciliation conferences. Yet democracy has not fully taken root and violence continues to plague many parts of the nation on a regular basis. This article argues that initiatives aimed at changing the structure of society – including but not limited to constitutionalism, frequent elections and the development of an independent judiciary – are more likely than purely symbolic efforts to contribute to the consolidation of democracy in the long term. It is these structural developments that have the greatest potential to transform society into a true democracy under the rule of law.
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