Peace through Justice


Judicial & Legal Reform/ (Re)construction

Post-conflict justice systems are often corrupt, dysfunctional, or non-existent. Proper judicial reform should be deemed necessary in order to help a society move forward. This source introduces several common characteristics associated to many post-conflict justice systems, such as the lack of proper resources, personnel, and infrastructure. There are helpful links for further exploration of judicial systems in specific countries. A competent, legitimate justice system is needed as it promotes development, protects human rights, ensures security, and addresses past injustices. Dealing with past conflicts and having a legitimate way of addressing future ones is essential in the transition of countries from conflict to long-lasting peace.

“Judicial & Legal Reform/ (Re)construction.” Peacebuilding Initiative. Web. October 2013. <>.


Rule of Law Reform in Post-Conflict Countries (Pgs. 15-23)

This paper, published by The World Bank, was written by Kirsti Samuels, who now works as a consultant specializing in peacebuilding, rule of law, and constitution-building. Section IV: Lessons Learnt details the challenges faced when trying to establish or reform a post-conflict judicial system. Samuels suggests that instead of adhering to a rigid, ineffective Western judicial structure, one should adapt to on-the-ground needs and cultural values and utilize informal and traditional justice mechanisms to work in conjunction with the formal justice system. Samuels argues towards maintaining a balance between local responsibility and self-sufficiency and foreign expertise and objectivity. All in all, this section of the report provides invaluable lessons for any foreign-aid project, with useful examples in the footnotes. When working to resolve conflicts around the world, peacebuilders must be flexible in their approaches, all the while maintaining the common goal of peace and equality for all.

Samuels, Kirsti. “Rule of Law Reform in Post-Conflict Countries.” The World Bank. October 2006. Pgs. 15-23. Web. October 2013. <>.


Kathryn Sikkink on the Justice Cascade

In May 2012, the Canadian International Council, dedicated to promoting discussion of international affairs, published a series of articles and interviews on the topic of Peace vs. Justice. This interview with Kathryn Sikkink provides an alternative perspective on the widespread debate. She introduces the “justice cascade,” a term she coined to describe the change in our perceptions of justice and of who can be prosecuted. Sikkink goes on to explain her stances on a variety of issues concerning the debate of peace vs. justice. For instance, she argues that arrest warrants made by International Criminal Courts should not be blamed for stalling peace processes, and she believes that amnesty can be given in order for a short-term peace agreement to take place. While Sikkink is a strong supporter of justice as a necessary step towards peace, she is flexible in the sequencing of justice and peace. I believe this flexibility is crucial when working towards effective solutions. Although peacemakers often have conflicting views of what peace looks like, practicality is universally essential if any level of peace is to be reached.

“Kathryn Sikkink on the Justice Cascade.” Interview by Chris Tenove. Canadian International Council. 6 May 2012. Web. October 2013. <>.


The Impact of Arrest Warrants Issued by International Criminal Courts on Peace Negotiations (Pgs. 47-57)

In the debate of peace vs. justice, some believe peace can only be attained through justice while others believe peace must come first, despite the short-term judicial implications. Paola Gaeta and Lyne Calder define “political realists” as those wanting practical means towards peace, using immunity as a bargaining chip in peace negotiations. “Judicial romantics,” on the other hand, are more ideologically rooted in the concept of achieving peace through justice. They believe that without justice, there is no true peace. “Political realists” focus on the short-term, while “judicial romantics” work towards “positive peace.” The authors recognize that in order for peace and justice to go hand in hand, the international community must support and be willing to use coercive diplomacy during armed conflict. Gaeta and Calder believe that both peace and justice are attainable; however, the international community must play an active role through its support, collaboration, and timing.

Gaeta, Paola and Lyne Calder. “The Impact of Arrest Warrants Issued by International Criminal Courts on Peace Negotiations.” Diplomatic and Judicial Means of Dispute Settlement. 2012. Pgs. 47-57. Web. October 2013. <>.

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