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Transitional Justice in Iraq: The Challenges of National Healing and Recovery


Transitional justice in Iraq is a record of squandered opportunities and compromised institutions. Over five decades, Iraqi society has endured human rights abuses on a wide scale, perpetrated by state and non-state actors. The post 2003 era offered a chance to heal wounds and promote national recovery by adopting policies of transparent judicial accountability, equitable reparations, truth-telling and documentation, and national reconciliation to repair the torn social fabric. Instead, in the immediate aftermath of the war of 2003, a victor’s justice prevailed, which deformed the principles of transitional justice and undermined its mechanisms through rampant sectarianism, clientelism and corruption, leading to new abuses, increased strife and deepening social fissures. Twenty years into the new political order, Iraqi policy-makers must reconsider their policies and reform their mechanisms to achieve social cohesion, or risk further social fragmentation and conflict.

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