The Individualising and Universalising Discourse of Law: Victims in Truth Commissions and Trials



The increasing prominence of the role of the victim in managing post-conflict societies is the product of first, the attempt by the state to invert the project of the former regime from producing victims to redeeming victims and second, the framing of the effects of violence through the universalising and individualising discourses of human rights and trauma. Both are used to identify and recognise the victim. This process of selection and recognition of the victim is at the core of the truth, justice, and reconciliation narratives which set out the consensus around injustice and reconciliation. Through the recognition of victims, more than the prosecution of perpetrators, the state seeks to bind the individual to the state. In transitional justice the consensus is produced by the process of justice, in the case of trials by separating the guilty from the innocent and in the case of truth commissions by forging an alliance between the beneficiaries of previous injustice and the victims willing to accept moral victory and symbolic reparations.


Transitional justice Ritual Reconciliation Human rights Suffering Trials Truth commission Victims 


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. ASSER PRESS, The Hague, The Netherlands, and the authors 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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