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Date(s) - 31/10/2017
12:00 am


Call for Abstracts for the Edited Volume:

The Impact of Human Rights Prosecutions:
Insights from European, Latin American, and African Post-Conflict Societies

Edited by Ulrike Capdepon, PhD, and Rosario Figari Layus, PhD

In recent years, human rights trials have advanced after war, dictatorship and mass violence, investigating and prosecuting military officials, political leaders, and heads of state charged with responsibility for major human rights violations in European, Latin American and African post-conflict societies. Many scholars and practitioners consider criminal accountability to be necessary or desirable for complex moral, legal, and institutional reasons. Yet, although justice in the courts is one of the most prominent demands of victims, it is also the most difficult to obtain. The right to justice, present in many international legal documents, appeals to the states to investigate, prosecute, and sanction crimes against humanity, helping to ensure, that similar atrocities will never happen again. Trials and judicial measures are often expected to produce a legitimizing effect on democratic forces by signaling a new commitment to human rights and democratic principles. Since the empirical research evidence on this assumption to date is relatively limited, the envisioned book project aims to focus especially on the social and political impact of judicial processes. Under which circumstances do domestic, hybrid, and international trials have positive, reparative social effects and when do they have (unintended) negative consequences on society, politics and democratic institution-building?

After the legacy of the Nuremberg trials, recent examples of prosecutions of war crimes and human rights violations have included the establishment of special tribunals such as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the Special Court for Sierra Leone, tribunals that could only be established after the end of the bipolar world of the East West conflict.

The analysis of the impact of accountability from a comparative, and transregional perspective has social and political relevance since it allows us to identify differences and commonalities regarding the use of criminal law and its repercussion in local contexts. Also, dealing with the legacy of gross human rights violations after a transition from authoritarianism to democracy or from war to peace presents opportunities to enhance human rights and the rule of law in societies in different world regions and must be analyzed from a boundary crossing perspective.

The harm caused by systematic human rights violations does not disappear with the end of an authoritarian regime or armed conflict. The book The Impact of Human Rights Prosecutions: Insights from European, Latin American, and African Post-Conflict Societies seeks to analyze the consequences, advances and difficulties of prosecuting perpetrators of mass atrocities at national and international level, with the goal of exploring new transregional perspectives: Can criminal justice play a key role in redressing victims and attempting to overcome -at least partially- the damage caused by violence? How are the diverse local, regional and international accountability efforts interconnected?

Handling of human rights violations has become of great importance for international policy makers and scholars. However, transnational comparative research on this topic regarding different regions and case studies is relatively sparse. Bringing together contributions from three world regions will help to explore from a cross boarder perspective, how these accountability efforts and experiences in different regions and countries relate to each other.

This edited volume seeks to promote the potential of comparative transregional social science research and human rights practice that shed light and develop new topics on human rights prosecutions. Thus, this book hopes to bring together cutting edge and original research on the state of human rights trials in Africa, Europe and Latin America. The book will address the three following dimensions of human rights prosecutions:

-Transregional comparative perspectives on domestic, international and hybrid human rights prosecutions: toward a methodological approach for analyzing human rights accountability.
-Case studies analyzing the international or local impact of accountability efforts and human rights prosecutions.
-New trends in the application of universal jurisdiction, extended to global south countries.

Contributions should address (but are not limited to) the following pivotal questions:

– What is the social and political impact of trials? When do they have positive effects, when  (unintended) negative consequences on society, politics and democratic institutions?
-What improvements or detrimental effects are human rights prosecution having at local level for victims, perpetrators and society?
– Who are the central actors of human rights prosecutions in Europe, Latin America and Africa (human rights organizations, victims’ associations, professional expert networks, etc.) and what challenges do they face?

We are looking for contributors coming from diverse backgrounds including Political Science, History, Sociology, Law, and European, African, and Latin American Regional Studies. We are specially inviting single case, comparative and interregional case study proposals dealing with the impact of domestic, hybrid and international human rights trials.

Your paper proposal should include the following elements in the submission: paper title; abstract (250 words); bio note (100 to 150 words); institutional affiliation and e-mail address. Please submit your paper proposals, and inquiries to:
Deadline is: October 31, 2017

We will then assemble a book proposal to be submitted to a University Press. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have further questions. We are looking forward to your contributions.

Contact Info:

Ulrike Capdepon, Rosario Figari Layus


Contact Email: