Human Rights Review

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 103–122 | Cite as

The Ministerialization of Transitional Justice

  • Christopher K. LamontEmail author
  • Joanna R. Quinn
  • Eric Wiebelhaus-Brahm


In recent years, countries have begun to establish ministries of transitional justice (TJ) as part of political transitions from authoritarianism to democracy or from conflict to peace. This may reflect a broader historical trend in the administration of TJ, which has evolved from isolated offices within a particular ministry to ad hoc cross-ministry coordinating bodies to the establishment of dedicated ministries. The reasons for the establishment of specific ministries to pursue TJ, what we call ministerialization, have not attracted scholarly attention. This article explores the causes and likely consequences of this development. In particular, it applies international relations, comparative politics, and public policy theories to explain the phenomenon. Contrary to some TJ literature that is concerned about hegemonic transnational (largely Western) discourse, international actors have played little to no role in shaping how TJ is bureaucratically managed. Rather, based upon fieldwork in Solomon Islands and Tunisia, the article concludes that ministerialization has been the result of domestic policy entrepreneurship. For TJ ministries to become a norm, however, more transnational actors will need to be convinced of the benefits of such an institutional arrangement.



Eric-Wiebelhaus-Brahm thanks Hayden Cuffman and Cameron Graves for valuable research assistance.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Ethics clearance for interviews in Solomon Islands was obtained from the Non-Medical Research Ethics Board of The University of Western Ontario through protocol #16121S. Ethics clearance for interviews in Tunisia was obtained from Globalisation Studies Groningen at the University of Groningen. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. Additional informed consent was obtained from all individual participants for whom identifying information is included in this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tokyo International UniversityKawagoeJapan
  2. 2.The University of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  3. 3.University of Arkansas at Little RockLittle RockUSA

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