The Role of Amnesties in Conflict Transformation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Amnesty laws are introduced during and after conflicts for a diverse array of reasons. These can range from amnesties that release members of banned organisations from prison, to amnesties that protect combatants from investigation and prosecution. These amnesties can be introduced in good faith to enable peace talks to proceed, to comply with international pressure to release political prisoners, or in recognition that the parties have fought themselves to a stalemate. In some cases, parties to conflicts have also used amnesties cynically in order to ‘buy’ time to re-equip and find new recruits.Amnesty laws also have considerable differences in scope. Traditionally, many amnesties following conflicts simply offered an automatic amnesty to all combatants regardless of which crimes they committed or the level of responsibility of the offender. However, in recent years, states are increasingly introducing amnesties that are conditional on individual applicants performing certain tasks, such as surrendering and disarming, and telling the truth about their actions. This chapter will explore the role of these individualised, conditional amnesties in conflict transformation processes at individual, communal, national and international levels.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Effectiveness of International Criminal Justice
EditorsCedric Ryngaert
ISBN (Print)978-90-5095-812-7
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Aug 2009


  • amnesty
  • conflict
  • conflict transformation
  • new wars
  • peace agreements
  • transitional justice


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