Burying the Past: Making Peace and Doing Justice After Civil Conflict

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Nigel Biggar
Georgetown University Press, 2001 - Philosophy - 312 pages
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When states make a transition from authoritarian rule to democracy, leaders must grapple with how to put the past to rest without reviving conflict. In this book an international cast of scholars examines the process of burying the past after civil conflict, an issue that has affected and will affect millions of people.

Should newly democratic countries draw a veil over their violent and repressive history or expose the painful truth? Should they require confessions of guilt from malefactors? Are such confessions without punishment sufficient for justice? Is amnesty for the guilty a political expedient or is it a form of forgiveness? These are among the questions to which this book responds, with special attention to South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Northern Ireland's peace process, and the detention of Chile's General Pinochet, as well as case studies from Rwanda and Guatemala. The contributors examine ethical concepts such as justice, retribution, forgiveness, and reconciliation, and they consider the process of burying the past at each of its different levels: international law, national institutions, local communities, and individual psychology.

With contributions from Donald Shriver, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Martha Minow, Charles Villa-Vicencio, and others, this volume will be of special interest to students and scholars in conflict resolution, transitional democracy, international law and human rights, and the philosophy and theology of justice and reconciliation.

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User Review  - johnthefireman - LibraryThing

A very useful collection of essays on peace and justice after civil conflict. Plenty of reflection on the complementarity of peace and justice, and some good analysis of restorative justice. It includes case studies. Read full review


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About the author (2001)

Biggar is Professor of Theology at the University of Leeds, where he directs the Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion, Ethics, and Public Life.

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