Harvard Law School
Human Rights Journal
Interrogating the Peripheries: The Preoccupations of Fourth Generation Transitional Justice
Dustin N. Sharp
Assistant Professor of Peace Studies
Abstract: In the last three decades, the field of transitional justice has moved from the margins to the center of international attention and policy making. Some two decades after the term was coined, it has been normalized, institutionalized, and mainstreamed. Yet even as the field as a whole moves from the periphery to the center, embraced by global institutions like the United Nations, issues that have long lingered at the edges of the field itself remain little changed. Thus, for example, transitional justice continues to privilege civil and political rights over economic and social rights; international rules and standards over local and cultural norms and practices; and legal and technocratic solutions over political and contextual ones. Building upon Ruti Teitel’s notion of a “transitional justice genealogy,” this article argues that a new phase or “fourth generation” of transitional justice preoccupations has arisen, characterized in part by an increasing willingness to grapple with those issues that have historically sat at the periphery of transitional justice concern. While these concerns are not entirely new, they have taken on increasing prominence in recent years. Working through the dilemmas they raise at the level of theory, policy, and practice will be an important step in the development of the field of transitional justice in the years to come.
*Dustin Sharp, J.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an Assistant Professor at the Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego, where he teaches courses in transitional justice and international human rights law. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he formerly practiced for the United States Department of State and Human Rights Watch.