ISBN: 978-1-138-04792-1

Julie Jarland

Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)

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Yvette Selim explores transitional justice efforts in Nepal following the civil war from 1996 to 2006. Selim outlines the background for the civil war and discusses the political context in which transitional justice efforts take place in post-conflict Nepal. In the final part, Selim goes into detail on how transitional justice both shapes and is shaped by post-conflict politics. She addresses issues of power dynamics, and how transitional justice mechanisms – such as the model truth and reconciliation commission put forth by international actors – are not adequately adapted to the local context. She argues that despite participatory processes intended to allow victims' voices to be heard, those affected by the conflict have little influence over the transitional justice mechanisms. Using binary categories of victims and perpetrators neglects the complexity of any conflict. Concepts such as victim, perpetrator and justice hold different meanings to different people. Who has the power to set the dominant definition of these concepts is important in understanding the workings of a transitional justice process. Selim shows how the narratives and vocabulary of transitional justice in Nepal excludes certain groups and individuals from the process. She does a great job of addressing the potential challenges and pitfalls of transitional justice. Her critique of the implementation of transitional justice in Nepal is balanced and convincing. She neither demonizes nor romanticizes the efforts taken to address wrongdoings during the conflict in Nepal. She challenges the dominant narratives and understanding of transitional justice and makes an important contribution to the study of transitional justice in Nepal and beyond. While focusing on the case of Nepal, this book offers valuable insights relevant to many post-conflict contexts.