From International Courts to Grassroots Organizing: Obstacles to Transitional Justice in the Balkans
Most research on transitional justice in the Balkans focuses on international mechanisms, particularly the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Little attention has been given to domestic responses because, until recently, there has been relatively little domestic participation and organizing around the topic of transitional justice. Our study seeks to fill this gap by examining the establishment of the Regional Truth Commission for the Former Yugoslavia (RECOM), which began officially in 2006. Using insights from social movement theory and literature on transnational advocacy networks, we identify the conditions necessary for a regional justice movement to succeed. Drawing upon interviews, survey research, as well as secondary material, we provide an interpretive analysis of RECOM, identifying the obstacles to its development, as well as the impact and role of international actors. We contend that although justice and peace are moving forward in the Balkans, ongoing dilemmas underscore important lessons about transitional justice; specifically, grassroots efforts to promote transitional justice must overcome significant challenges in defining issues, creating coalitions, and engaging the state. While international actors have thus far focused primarily on the ICTY, they can and should support grassroots efforts.
KeywordsCivil Society Personal Interview Restorative Justice International Forum Transitional Justice
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