This article analyzes the central arguments and findings of “transitional justice,” the study of how incoming rulers address the human rights abuses of outgoing regimes. A scholarly consensus suggests the balance of political power matters most for explanations of transitional justice decision making. However, other important influences include international factors and the passage of time combined with democratic governance and/or emotions. Our review finds no consensus on the efficacy of transitional justice measures, in part because few studies currently exist. However, existing studies suggest that trials and truth commissions neither destabilize democracy nor foster animosity, respectively. Finally, this article considers whether restricting the study of transitional justice to third-wave democracies is appropriate in light of recent developments in long-established democracies.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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