University of Mannheim
The Peacemaker’s Paradox presents a nuanced perspective to the longstanding ‘peace vs. justice’ debate regarding prosecutions after armed conflicts. Drawing on rich consulting experiences in different transitional justice contexts, Hayner emphasizes the dilemma confronted by peace mediators who seek to balance belligerents’ interests with demands for justice. Taking a Realist perspective, Hayner depicts the ‘justice cascade’ (Sikkink) embodied in the far-reaching mandate of the ICC as a substantial obstacle for peace negotiations. However, instead of calling for amnesty, she suggests holistic approaches to justice sensitive to local contexts and to the timing of peace negotiations. Hayner’s key premise is that ending armed conflict is inherently in the interest of justice. Therefore, peace negotiations might require strategic delays or a flexible scope for prosecutions. Hayner’s theoretical framework builds on anecdotal evidence from transitional justice contexts around the world. The second part of the book presents detailed case studies of peace negotiations in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Uganda, Libya, and Colombia. The underlying rationale is that the transitional justice community should learn from lessons from prior experiences in order to balance peace and justice more effectively. The key strength of this approach lies in its thorough analysis of specific transitional contexts providing a policy-oriented perspective. It is too simplistic when Hayner interprets singular incidences of violence after prosecutions as general evidence against deterrent effects. She misconstrues the complex process of norm creation and ignores the absence of counterfactuals. Apart from this caveat, Hayner’s book represents an excellent contribution appealing both to transitional justice scholars and policy-makers. Coupled with her prior book, Unspeakable Truths (2001/2011), Hayner creates a comprehensive perspective on best practice in transitional justice.