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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Justice Beyond Borders? The Politics to Democratize Human Rights in the Post-Conflict Balkans
by Kurze, Arnaud, Ph.D., George Mason University, 2012, 292; 3506226
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the politics of post-conflict justice in the former Yugoslavia. It discusses the protagonistic role of human rights activists in challenging existing transitional justice models that emphasize international and domestic war crimes trials over restorative justice mechanisms—including truth commissions, reparations and memorials, among others. Using a political sociology perspective, this study goes beyond statist, normative and legalist scholarship on accountability after mass atrocity and builds on an emerging literature in the social sciences that focuses on the impact of global human rights on the national and local level. It analyzes human rights advocates’ recent efforts to initiate a transnational fact-finding body—called the Coalition for RECOM Initiative—in the post-conflict Balkans against the backdrop of the successes and challenges of the UN-created International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as well as the difficulties of national judiciaries to prosecute war crimes and gross human rights violations across the region. This victim-centric fact-finding movement—whose primary goal is to establish a transnational commission in charge of collecting testimonies about human rights abuses and war crimes—is an attempt to introduce a holistic and complementary transitional justice strategy that goes beyond the unidimensional retributive justice approach in the Balkans. Concentrating on individuals and society, instead of high politics (such as the European Union enlargement process with its broad political and economic agenda) this bottom-up initiative is an important step to democratize transitional justice processes in the post-conflict Balkans. The study explores the efforts promoted by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in several Balkan states—particularly Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia—to coordinate a transnational campaign to cope with past mass atrocities. It discloses the struggle that this movement faces from within—confronted by diverging interests of its members—and from outside, as it seeks political and financial support from international and region-specific organizations as well as national governments. Drawing on participant observation and in-depth interviews (along with archival material, including reports, policy briefs, strategy papers, press releases and news articles, among others) this research examines how these NGOs organize their relations with international actors (such as the ICTY), national judiciaries and their constituencies to discuss, interpret, and identify meanings of human rights and democracy within and across state-boundaries of countries in the former Yugoslavia. It traces how, the extent to which, and with what effect these meanings travel and transform through the movement’s transnational networks and practices, and attempts to see whether and how they influence the NGOs’ campaign for political and legal institutional change within the region.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Burt, Jo-Marie
Commitee: Bockman, Johanna, Mandaville, Peter
School: George Mason University
Department: Political Science
School Location: United States -- Virginia
Source: DAI-A 73/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: International Relations, Political science, Social structure
Keywords: Human rights activism, International criminal law, International humanitarian law, NGOs, Post-conflict Balkans, Regional Truth Commission, State-society relations, Transitional justice
Publication Number: 3506226
ISBN: 978-1-267-31601-1
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