Transitional justice in protracted conflict: local and diaspora conceptions of retributive and restorative justice between shari`a, customary and human rights law in Somalia and Ethiopia`s Somali Region


The project includes Somali and non-Somali researchers with different disciplinary backgrounds who conduct research in the Horn of Africa, North America, Europe and the Arab Peninsula. The overall project objective is to study predominant conceptions of transitional justice pertaining to mass violence and gross human rights violations among Somalis in Somalia, Ethiopia’s Somali Region and the Somali diaspora. Both Somalia and Ethiopia’s Somali Region have been characterized by massive violence and human rights violations by state and non-state actors since the 1970s. So far, no steps have been undertaken by national governments or the international community to deal with the past violence. Both Somalia and Ethiopia are still characterized by armed conflict (in parts of the countries), gross human rights violations and authoritarian rule respectively statelessness. The project will therefore explore conceptions of transitional justice ‘before the fact’, i.e., before transitional justice mechanisms are officially in place. Recent research on transitional justice processes in other contexts indicated that dealing with the violent past is usually a highly politicized matter. Against this backdrop this project provides a baseline study of local conceptions about peace and justice. It will furthermore generate important insights about the possibilities and constraints for transitional justice in predominantly Islamic societies (Somalis in Somalia and Ethiopia are basically 100 per cent Muslims). Finally, the project introduces a distinctly transnational perspective to the study of transitional justice.

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