Strategic Justice during Civil Conflict


2 October 2012

​Researchers from West Virginia University and PRIO recently received funding from the National Science Foundation to collect a global dataset covering transitional justice processes implemented during civil wars from 1946 to 2010.
Civil war remains a global challenge. Justice processes are often offered as solutions to prevent conflict reoccurrence; yet, little work has been undertaken to understand the prevalence of practices (trials, truth commissions, reparations, amnesties, purges, and exiles) while conflict is ongoing. Existing studies focus on implementation of processes in transitional and post-conflict periods, but pilot data shows that these same practices are often used during violence. For example, during the ongoing conflict between the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) there have been multiple trials of LRA members, a half-hearted truth commission, a local justice process called Mato Oput, international justice efforts in the form of the Ugandan government referral of the LRA case to the International Criminal Court, and at least three separate amnesty agreements. Despite their prevalence, we currently have little understanding as to when and why during-conflict justice (DCJ) processes are implemented and their likely effect on the duration of conflict and durability of peace. Thus, this project will examine which justice processes, if any, a government implements during internal conflicts, in which contexts such processes are pursued, and the likely outcomes of these interventions. The overarching motivation guiding this project is the desire to increase our understanding of the use and possible utility of during-conflict justice for the termination of ongoing conflicts. Furthermore, the results of this project will be used to understand the potential misuses of DCJ for goals not related to conflict resolution and promotion of the rule-of-law, leading to more effective conflict termination strategies and shortening the duration of civil conflict.

More information can be found on the project webpage: