Research Project

Essex Transitional Justice Network

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The Essex Transitional Justice Network was established in 2009 to bring together the unique community of academics at Essex working on transitional justice from different disciplines.

The Essex Transitional Justice Network (ETJN) is one of the leading projects of the Human Rights Centre aiming to address hard questions in theory and practice related to the challenges faced by societies undergoing fundamental socio-political change, notably the transition from a repressive to a democratic regime, or from conflict to peace, and trying to reckon with the legacies of mass atrocities.

Our approach is transdisciplinary and broad, looking not only at traditional topics of transitional justice (justice, reparation, truth and guarantees of non-repetition), but also at wider and previously neglected issues, such as socio-economic dimensions, third party actors, the role of the arts, access to information, and informal justice mechanisms. Our aim is to provide a platform for researchers, practitioners, and decision-makers to better understand transitional justice and thereby to improve the situation on the ground. We engage in research activities, teaching, and consultancy, and welcome collaboration and requests for advice from around the globe.


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Key themes of work

The ETJN’s work on reparations, the responsibility of third party actors like corporations, and the role of the arts in transitional justice reflects wide interests shared by the Essex community.

Below you will find information and key publications on our research in key areas. For more information on our publications and research in these areas, please visit our staff profiles.

Current areas of work

Transitional Justice in Colombia

Various research and impact projects have the transitional justice process in Colombia as their focus. They aim to support the Special Jurisdiction for Peace to deliver on its mandate but also to consider from an academic and practice-oriented perspective many of the challenges that transitional justice faces in the country, particularly in the areas of reparation, victims’ participation, acknowledgement of responsibility, punishment of those responsible and accountability of third party actors.

Professor Sabine Michalowski and Professor Clara Sandoval are leading the ETJN’s working in these areas.


Key publications

Economic actors in the Colombian transitional justice process:
Analysis of legal concepts that are essential for the work of the Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace
Victim participation
    Socioeconomic dimensions of transitional justice
    Amicus curiae before the Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace
    Blogs and opinion pieces:



    A key area of work of the ETJN has been the right to reparation that victims, individual or collective, have when they suffer harm as a result of human rights violations or serious violations of humanitarian law in times of conflict or repression. The work on reparations has focused on rehabilitation for victims (including legal empowerment); reparations for victims of sexual and reproductive violence; making reparations viable during transitions; implementing of reparations; ensuring that all those responsible for violations provide reparations to victims; victims’ participation; and understanding the transformative potential of reparations for victims.


    Key publications include:


    Current and past grants/projects in this area include:

    Reparations for victims of conflict-related sexual violence in Colombia: Global Survivors Fund, 2020-2021

    • As part of the world report that the Global Survivors Fund is preparing on reparations for victims of conflict-related sexual violence, where 20 States have been chosen to consider the opportunities as well as the challenges and achievements to secure reparation for survivors, Professor Sandoval is leading the team working on the Colombian report.

    Reparations, responsibility and victimhood in transitional societies: Arts and Humanities Research Council – 2017-2021

    • The project looks at Colombia, Guatemala, Nepal, Northern Ireland, Peru, and Uganda to analyse the effectiveness of reparations in the aftermath of conflict and mass violence. The project considers the role of non-state armed groups in contributing to reparation processes, victim participation and agency in reparation programmes, gender dimensions, and the interaction of donors and developments with reparations. The project is in partnership with Redress and collaborates with the International Centre for Transitional Justice and the International Organisation for Migration.
    • Learn more about this grant.

    Alternative sanctions in Catatumbo: Exploring punishment, reparation and victims’ participation: IAA (July 2020-December 2020)

    Implementation and compliance with human rights law: An exploration of the interplay between the international, regional and national levels: Economic & Social Research Council (2015-2019)

    • The aim of the project was to track selected decisions by UN and regional human rights treaty bodies, against nine countries in Africa, Europe and the Americas, to see the extent to which States have implemented them and why. Professor Sandoval led the Americas team of the project and they consider the conflict dimensions of reparation and their intersections with the work of the Inter-American Commission and Court, in relation to Colombia and Guatemala.
    • Learn more about this project

    Economic Actors

    Since its beginnings, the ETJN has had a strong research focus on the linkages between business and human rights and transitional justice, resulting in a series or international seminars and an edited collection already in 2013. More recently, this work has concentrated on how to achieve the inclusion of third party actors in the Colombian transitional justice process. Together with Colombian NGO and thinktank Dejusticia, the ETJN has co-authored several policy and academic publications related to the implementation of the Colombian peace agreement on this point and has filed amicus curiae briefs before the Colombian Constitutional Court and the Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace. At the international level, we have been supporting the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights in their work on businesses in conflict, post-conflict and transitional justice contexts.


    Key publications


    Recent grants
    • Road map on how the Colombian Special Jurisdiction for peace should deal with third-party actors  (GCRF, Essex 2019)
    • Including third party actors into the Colombian transitional justice process University of Essex (IAA, 2017)

    Arts and Transitional Justice

    The ETJN continues to explore how the arts can promote accountability and memorialisation for past atrocities. Earlier theoretical explorations are now complemented by studies of specific art forms (comics, dance, music, and theatre) dealing with atrocities in Former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Rwanda, and Sri Lanka.


    Key publications
    • Bahun, S., (2020). Beyond Good and Evil? Popular Songs, Mathemes, and Bus Rides (Art and Transition in the Region of Former Yugoslavia). Media, War, and Conflict. 12 (Special Issue: The Political Aesthetics of Democratization Conflicts,), 70-87
    • Pegorier, C. and Howe, S., (2020). Law, Narrative and Critique in Contemporary Verbatim Theatre. Pólemos. 14 (2), 385-405
    • Pegorier, C., (2019). Law, Literature and Genocide: Rupert Bazambanza’s Smile Through the Tears. Pólemos. 13 (1), 167-189
    • Bahun, S., (2015). Transitional justice and the arts: Reflections on the field. In: Theorizing Transitional Justice. Editors: Corradetti, C., Eisikovits, N. and Rotondi, J., . Ashgate. 153- 166. 9781472418296


    Recent grants
    • Performing Inclusion: Researching How Mixed-Abled, Community Dance Performances Impact Perceptions towards Disability in Post-War Sri Lanka (British Council in Sri Lanka 2019)
    • Performing Empowerment: Disability, Dance and Inclusive Development in Post-War Sri Lanka (AHRC/ESRC/GCRF, 2016-2018)


    Conferences, Seminars, Lectures

    The ETJN holds events all year round both as part of the Human Rights Centre Speaker Series but also its own research seminars, panel discussions and more, often in partnership with different academic and non-academic institutions.

    Its landmark event is the Essex Transitional Justice Network Annual Lecture where distinguished transitional justice experts share their experience and knowledge with our audience, including Pablo de Greiff, former and Fabian Salvioli, current Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and non-recurrence; Juan Mendez, ex-director of the International Centre for Transitional Justice; Yasmin Sooka, former Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa and Catalina Diaz, Magistrate at the Special Jurisdiction for Peace in Colombia.

    Previous topics have included; Transitional Justice and Prevention, current challenges of transitional justice, lessons from African experiences, and, a gender perspective on transitional justice, international law, and human rights law amongst others.

    All upcoming events by the Essex Transitional Justice Network are available on the Essex Law School events calendar.

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    Our community

    Our community is rich with Essex staff, postgraduate research students, Essex alumni, research fellows and external researchers.

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    Essex Transitional Justice Network