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Journal for Peace and Justice Studies

Volume 20, Issue 2, 2010

Peacebuilding in Africa

Joleen Steyn Kotze
Pages 94-116

In Search of Justice
African and Western Approaches to Transitional Justice

The early 1990s saw an increase in conflict in Africa and increasingly brutal tactics of war ranging from using rape as a weapon of war to the amputation of limbs of citizens. By 2006 nearly half of all high-intensity conflicts were fought on the African continent. In many cases, fragile peace had been achieved in countries that saw some of the most brutal actions of war and experienced the most horrific human rights abuses. These societies embarked on processes of post-conflict reconstruction and the search for sustainable peace through national reconciliation and forgiveness in the hope of creating sustainable peace and democracy. This article seeks to engage the notions that underpin Western or retributive justice and African or restorative notions of justice in achieving democratic durability in a post-conflict society. It is premised on the argument that sustainable peace in Africa can only be achieved with a creative mixture of both Western and African approaches to transitional justice.

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