Reconceptualising transitional justice: The Latin American experience (completed)

This project studies the Latin American experiences of transitional justice occuring since the democratic transitions of the 1980s.

About the project

Latin America has long been characterised as the land of impunity. The images and accounts of gross human rights violations committed during brutal dictatorships in the Southern cone in the 1970s were soon to be followed by widespread violence and abuse in the internal armed conflicts across the region in the 1980s and 1990s. Accountability, in the form of trials or truth commissions was more the exception than the rule.

Today, as more perpetrators are facing criminal prosecution, amnesty laws are being dismantled, and victims’ rights have entered the public arena – is the former picture of impunity fading? Is Latin American moving from a culture of impunity towards a culture of accountability?


Guided by the overall question, this project aims to study the Latin American experiences of transitional justice occurring since the democratic transitions of the 1980s, in order to assess the role of transitional justice in a societal shift from the rule of impunity towards the primacy of accountability.

The project looks beyond the mere presence of transitional justice mechanisms and analyses the workings, progress and limitations, as well as the role of other contextual factors that promote or inhibit accountability.


The project involves comparative analysis of nine Latin American countries based on a common conceptual and methodological framework, in order to identify emerging patterns of social change in the continuum between a ‘culture of impunity’ and a ‘culture of accountability’.


The project runs from 2010-2013 and is headed by Elin Skaar at Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI). Jemima García-Godos heads the research team at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, working with Peru, Guatemala, El Salvador and Colombia.


The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway Latin America Programme.

Published May 2, 2012 10:16 AM - Last modified Mar. 26, 2013 12:41 PM