Reaction Paper on Corruption and Development as Part of Transitional Justice


In “Plunder and Pain: Should Transitional Justice Engage with Corruption and Economic Crimes,” Carranza (2008) reviews the manner in which accountability for both economic crimes and corruption intersect with abuse of human rights. In reviewing these issues, the author based their argument on transitional justice whereby he is critical of the manner it treats abuses as subsets of violation of human rights as well as economic crimes (Carranza, 2008). According to the article, both corruption and violation of human rights encompass gross abuse, and thus should be treated as such. Moreover, the author proposes that economic crimes resulting from corruption should be treated in the same manner as other crimes are treated. When treated in such a manner, it would be possible to confront the culprits.

“Dealing With a “New” Grievance: Should Anticorruption Be Part of the Transitional Justice Agenda?” is an article that seeks to address the issue of whether transitional justice can address corruption in the same effectiveness as it deals with human rights violations (Andrieu, 2012). The author is particular with the scope of transitional justice and seeks to find out whether this scope can be adjusted to address the corruption grievance. As an alternative, the article seeks to find out whether new alternatives would suffice in rooting out corruption. In addressing these issues, the manner leaders in transitioning Arab democracies handled their biggest threat, corruption is exemplified (Andrieu, 2012).

Post Conflict Peace Building and Transitional Justice

Post-conflict peace building encompasses the multi-dimensional array of processes taken to ensure that a society does not relapse to conflict. In addressing human rights abuses experienced during conflicts, transitional justice has arisen. The latter looks into the past atrocities in a bid to build a stable society through ensuring accountability for past crimes, justice as well as reconciliation. Transitional justice has many definitions which try to expound its scope. According to the United Nations, it is the set of measures, judicial and non-judicial that aim at redressing human rights abuses. Transitional justice is skewed towards the achievement of reconciliation through ensuring that justice is served, and that necessary individuals or institutions are held accountable. The achievements are attained through vetting, amnesty, trials, commissions, reconciliation programs, and reparations. Plunder’s and Andrieu’s works address transitional justice and seek to explore whether transitional justice should also encompass large scale corruption and economic crimes.

Andrieu (2012) analyzed the corruption issue and its connection political upheavals witnessed during the “Arab Spring” uprisings. The menace can no longer be viewed as an isolated problem but as a social problem with deep roots. Corruption allows oppression of the weak in the economy, culture, and politics (Andrieu, 2012). In addressing the question of whether corruption should be included in transitional justice, the author discusses corruption as a justice concern. Additionally, there is a connection between how corruption affects the society and fuels instability. There is an evident link between corruption and human rights abuse as among other things, the menace violates the basic principle of fairness to human beings, when basic services are rendered at a fee. In accordance with the class discussion, corruption as an economic injustice should be included in transitional justice. Moreover, it can lead to organized violence when practiced by the police, a factor that denies individuals the right to equal opportunity (Andrieu, 2012). Transitional justice deals with unjust occurrences of a post-conflict society, a description that befits Andrieu’s (2012) views on corruption.

It would not be sufficient to link corruption and transitional justice issues without looking at its aspects of human rights violations. A link between corruption and human rights is established in the article when the author asserts that rampant corruption disables the state from the ability to comply with equity and fair human rights obligations. In this aspect, the author clearly discusses the relation between corruption and violation of human civil rights as well as corruption and violation of cultural, social, and economic rights (Andrieu, 2012). Establishment of these links is a laudable effort from the author in assessing the inclusion of corruption in transitional justice. Once a connection is set between these elements, it implies that the issues can possibly be dealt with in the same arm, that of transitional justice.

Andrieu (2012) has notably dissected the instruments of transitional justice in trying to find out whether they can adequately deal with corruption. The addressed instruments include trials, truth commissions, reparations, and institutional reforms. Indeed, transitional justice revolves around the stated tools, a fact that reinforces Andrieu’s (2012) linkage of corruption and transition justice. Corruption, according to the author, should be criminalized in a bid to ensure that cases of corruption never go unpunished. Such a step requires that proper statutes should be enacted in international legal procedures to allow and substantiate trial. However, there lies a problem in criminalizing corruption due to lack of a causal link between corruption and the damages resulting from the acts, which is necessary for international litigation. The resultant gaps can be filled through other procedures as truth commissions (Andrieu, 2012). A truth commission looks at the past as it happened. It includes armed conflicts, theft, and corrupt practices. Within transitional justice, corruption will hence have been visibly addressed and legally dealt with (Andrieu, 2012).

Transitional justice has for a long time been used as a mechanism of making institutional reforms through truth seeking, reparations and prosecution in human rights violations. The main aim of transitional justice commissions is to hold perpetrators of human rights violation accountable as well as provide justice, truth and long-lasting solutions to the victims. This commission facilitates forgiveness of reconciliation and cohesiveness assuming that the only crime that the perpetrator suffered was human rights violation. Carranza (2008) indicates that the focus of transitional justice mechanism has been narrow and, in most instances, leaves out violation of economic and social rights. In post-dictatorial or impoverished post-conflict countries, human rights violation and economic crimes are often intertwined. Dictators, warlords and perpetrators of violence are not only brutal but are corrupt in numerous cases. Addressing human rights violation and ignoring corruption have been the current focus of transitional justice and is hence inadequate. The transitional justice process in developing countries experiencing corrupt dictatorship has, in some instances, left unsolved legacies related to corruption and other economic crimes. Some of the cases where transitional justice mechanism has failed to other full justice to the victims includes the Pinochet’s legacy of corruption, the post-Abacha Nigeria and post-Mobutu in Democratic Republic of Congo, Post-Marcos Philippines, Post-Suharto Indonesia, and the Post-TRC Impunity Gap in South Africa.

Both Andrieu (2012) and Carranza (2008) have identified the same fault in the transitional justice mechanism. Corruption has been a major violation that is often left out by the commissions. Carranza (2008) has identified how different transitional justice commissions have denied justice in different jurisdictions around the world. Andrieu (2012) asserts that the transitional justice process should incorporate economic violation in its mandate because of its close linkage to human rights violation. Both writers agree that just as human right victims deserve justice, victims of economic crime suffer when their resources are unfairly rooted to benefit a few people. The whole process should involve reconciliation between the corrupt and the affected people, reparations are also important in economic vocalizing because in most cases, corruption leads to improvisation of the society. It is, therefore, important to make the corrupt participate in restoring the economic states of the society through the all-encompassing reparations (Gray, 2009).

According to Carranza (2008) and Andrieu (2012), courts addressing human rights issues usually have a sole mandate of filtering out the human rights violation out of a broad injustice involving economic crimes. Another mandate of truth and justice in post-violence is delivering the truth to the victims that will be stated as warning as well as an explanation of the cause of violation. Both Carranza (2008) and Andrieu (2012) indicate that the mandate achieved while addressing human rights violation should extend to economic crimes in order to tell the truth. Carranza (2008) uses an example of South Africa where there the truth and reconciliation did not address economic crimes. The post-apartheid country illustrates the in addressing apartheid comprehensively. Reconciliation is a key mandate for any transitional justice commission that aims at achieving national healing. The traditional mechanism where incarceration, sanctioning, and fines were seen as justifiable solutions to corruption has been criticized for leaving a gap in the society. Countries should learn from the failures of truth and reconciliation commissions and make tribunals that effectively address economic crimes. By doing so, the transitional justice and reconciliation commissions will deliver justice to the victims in full. The truth and reconciliation commission should go beyond role and hold individual perpetrators liable for indirect human rights violations enhance victims’ reparation and explain the whole truth about their violations. Reparations focus on transitional justice, not as any ordinary justice system, but as one that makes an abusive past commit to the rule of law, respects human rights, and is democratic (Gray, 2009).

Economic crimes such as corruption have led to impoverished communities and unfair denial of basic needs such as hospital insurance and security. Such violations can be categorized as human right violations and should be addressed though transitional justice systems. Impacts of corruption are felt even after the perpetrators are punished. In addition, they therefore leave a gap of hatred, poverty and injustice. Both Carranza (2008) and Andrieu (2012) have indicated that failure to include economic violations and rampant corruption in the mandate of truth and reconciliation commission is a denial of justice. It is evident in different jurisdictions around the world, where the gap is still felt to date.



Andrieu, K., 2012. Dealing with a “new” grievance: should anticorruption be part of the transitional justice agenda? Journal of Human Rights, 11(4), pp. 537-557.

Carranza, R., 2008. Plunder and pain: should transitional justice engage with corruption and economic crimes? International Journal of Transitional Justice, 2(3), pp. 310-330.

Gray, D.C., 2009. A no-excuse approach to transitional justice: reparations as tools of extraordinary justice. Washington University Law Review, 87, pp. 1043-1098.

Need help with your homework? Let our experts handle it.
Order form