Rethinking Amnesties: Atrocity, Accountability and Impunity in Postconflict Societies

Louise Mallinder, Kieran McEvoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The notion of accountability that is propagated in transitional justice often appears limited to demands for the prosecution and imprisonment of those who have been involved in serious human rights violations. Amnesties, widely understood as the absence of punishment for wrongdoing, are in turn considered by many scholars and activists as an example par excellence of the kind of Faustian pacts which are made in the name of political expediency in transitions from conflict. Drawing from a range of interdisciplinary literature, as well as research completed by the authors in a number of societies with a violent past, this paper uses amnesties as a case study to argue for a more rounded interrogation of the notion of accountability in transitional justice. The paper charts the various forms of intersecting accountability which both shape and delimit amnesties at key ‘moments’ concerning their remit, introduction and operation. The paper concludes that the legalistic view of amnesties as equating to impunity and retribution as accountability is inaccurate and misleading. It argues that a broader perspective of accountability speaks directly to the capacity for amnesties to play a more constructive role in post-conflict justice and peacemaking.
LanguageEnglish
Pages107-128
JournalContemporary Social Science
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2011

Fingerprint

amnesty
responsibility
society
justice
human rights violation
imprisonment
prosecution
penalty
Accountability
Impunity
Amnesty
Atrocities

Cite this

@article{ff16013acb6a4026bc6d5e8e8051ed4d,
title = "Rethinking Amnesties: Atrocity, Accountability and Impunity in Postconflict Societies",
abstract = "The notion of accountability that is propagated in transitional justice often appears limited to demands for the prosecution and imprisonment of those who have been involved in serious human rights violations. Amnesties, widely understood as the absence of punishment for wrongdoing, are in turn considered by many scholars and activists as an example par excellence of the kind of Faustian pacts which are made in the name of political expediency in transitions from conflict. Drawing from a range of interdisciplinary literature, as well as research completed by the authors in a number of societies with a violent past, this paper uses amnesties as a case study to argue for a more rounded interrogation of the notion of accountability in transitional justice. The paper charts the various forms of intersecting accountability which both shape and delimit amnesties at key ‘moments’ concerning their remit, introduction and operation. The paper concludes that the legalistic view of amnesties as equating to impunity and retribution as accountability is inaccurate and misleading. It argues that a broader perspective of accountability speaks directly to the capacity for amnesties to play a more constructive role in post-conflict justice and peacemaking.",
author = "Louise Mallinder and Kieran McEvoy",
year = "2011",
month = "2",
day = "16",
doi = "10.1080/17450144.2010.534496",
language = "English",
volume = "6",
pages = "107--128",
journal = "Contemporary Social Science",
issn = "2158-2041",
number = "1",

}

Rethinking Amnesties: Atrocity, Accountability and Impunity in Postconflict Societies. / Mallinder, Louise; McEvoy, Kieran.

In: Contemporary Social Science, Vol. 6, No. 1, 16.02.2011, p. 107-128.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Rethinking Amnesties: Atrocity, Accountability and Impunity in Postconflict Societies

AU - Mallinder, Louise

AU - McEvoy, Kieran

PY - 2011/2/16

Y1 - 2011/2/16

N2 - The notion of accountability that is propagated in transitional justice often appears limited to demands for the prosecution and imprisonment of those who have been involved in serious human rights violations. Amnesties, widely understood as the absence of punishment for wrongdoing, are in turn considered by many scholars and activists as an example par excellence of the kind of Faustian pacts which are made in the name of political expediency in transitions from conflict. Drawing from a range of interdisciplinary literature, as well as research completed by the authors in a number of societies with a violent past, this paper uses amnesties as a case study to argue for a more rounded interrogation of the notion of accountability in transitional justice. The paper charts the various forms of intersecting accountability which both shape and delimit amnesties at key ‘moments’ concerning their remit, introduction and operation. The paper concludes that the legalistic view of amnesties as equating to impunity and retribution as accountability is inaccurate and misleading. It argues that a broader perspective of accountability speaks directly to the capacity for amnesties to play a more constructive role in post-conflict justice and peacemaking.

AB - The notion of accountability that is propagated in transitional justice often appears limited to demands for the prosecution and imprisonment of those who have been involved in serious human rights violations. Amnesties, widely understood as the absence of punishment for wrongdoing, are in turn considered by many scholars and activists as an example par excellence of the kind of Faustian pacts which are made in the name of political expediency in transitions from conflict. Drawing from a range of interdisciplinary literature, as well as research completed by the authors in a number of societies with a violent past, this paper uses amnesties as a case study to argue for a more rounded interrogation of the notion of accountability in transitional justice. The paper charts the various forms of intersecting accountability which both shape and delimit amnesties at key ‘moments’ concerning their remit, introduction and operation. The paper concludes that the legalistic view of amnesties as equating to impunity and retribution as accountability is inaccurate and misleading. It argues that a broader perspective of accountability speaks directly to the capacity for amnesties to play a more constructive role in post-conflict justice and peacemaking.

U2 - 10.1080/17450144.2010.534496

DO - 10.1080/17450144.2010.534496

M3 - Article

VL - 6

SP - 107

EP - 128

JO - Contemporary Social Science

T2 - Contemporary Social Science

JF - Contemporary Social Science

SN - 2158-2041

IS - 1

ER -