Social Science Research Network
The framework of transitional justice, originally devised to facilitate reconciliation in countries undergoing transitions from authoritarianism to democracy, is used with increasing frequency to respond to certain types of human rights violations against indigenous peoples. In some cases, transitional justice measures are employed in societies not undergoing regime transition. This paper outlines some of the potential complexities involved in processing indigenous demands for justice through a transitional justice framework. First, governments and indigenous peoples may differ over the scope of injustices that transitional justice measures can address. Second, governments may try to use transitional justice to draw a line through history and legitimate present policy, whereas indigenous peoples may try to use the past to critique present policy and conditions. Third, governments may try to use transitional justice to reassert their sovereignty and legal authority, whereas indigenous peoples may try to resist this strategy, and even make competing claims to sovereignty and legal authority.