Transitional Injustice: Subverting Justice in Transition and Postconflict Societies

Cyanne E. Loyle, Christian Davenport

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Diverse in many respects, one unifying element of research on transitional justice (TJ) concerns the fact that predicted outcomes of these processes are normatively appealing; specifically, advocates argue TJ promotes truth and reconciliation, prevents armed conflict and increases democratization. This perspective further assumes that justice efforts are implemented with these goals in mind. We argue that it is possible for governments to implement TJ without maintaining an interest in truth, peace, or democracy but rather with the intention of promoting denial and forgetting, perpetuating violence, and legitimating authoritarianism—a process we call transitional injustice. In this article, we provide indicators by which scholars and policy makers can determine if transitional injustice is taking place. To further our argument, we conduct a detailed examination of Rwandan politics following the violence of 1994 and demonstrate the ways in which the Rwandan state has been able to use justice processes towards alternative ends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-149
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Human Rights
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law


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