Transitional Justice in the Asia-Pacific. Comparative and Theoretical Perspectives

Leigh A. Payne and Kathryn Sikkink

THIS VOLUME SEEKS TO DESCRIBE AND ANALYZE THE PREviously unexplored processes of transitional justice in the Asia-Pacific region. In so doing, it not only fills a geographical void in the study of state responses to past atrocities, it contributes to our understanding of patterns of transitional justice processes, diffusion of those processes, and their impact on human rights and democracy outcomes.

In the 1980s and 1990s, when studies of transitional justice began, transitional justice had penetrated less deeply in Asia than in other regions, such as Latin America and Eastern Europe. As a result, there were fewer scholarly studies of transitional justice in the Asia-Pacific region and less evidence to evaluate the impact of transitional justice mechanisms there. In recent years such mechanisms have started to be used with greater frequency in the region, thereby offering a unique setting for testing theoretical arguments about their emergence and spread. Likewise, evidence

1 The data presented in this chapter are partially based on research supported by the National Science Foundation (Grant No. 0961226) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (Grant No. 0AH/I500030/1) relating to the project titled “The impact of transitional justice on human rights and democracy.” Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Arts and Humanities Research Council. We wish to thank our NSF/AHRC research teams for their assistance with data for this article, and in particular, Emily Braid and Tricia Olsen (for preparation of Figure 2), Geoff Dancy (for preparation of Figures 1 and 3-7), Megan Geigle, Pierre Louis Le Goff, Francesca Lessa, and Gabriel Pereira.

of the impact of transitional justice from other regions may be useful as scholars, policy makers, and practitioners debate what kinds of accountability mechanisms to adopt in the Asia-Pacific region. This chapter aims at contributing to these debates.

In this chapter we begin with an analysis of what we have learned from our cross-national studies of transitional justice and apply the lessons to the Asia-Pacific region. We first present an overview of the historical background and global trends on transitional justice to situate the Asia- Pacific region in the context of these global trends. We then explore various theoretical explanations for the origins, spread, and impact of transitional justice mechanisms and their implication for the Asia-Pacific experience.

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