Beyond Genocide: Transitional Justice and Gacaca Courts in Rwanda

The Search for Truth, Justice and Reconciliation

  • Pietro Sullo

Part of the International Criminal Justice Series book series (ICJS, volume 20)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvi
  2. Pietro Sullo
    Pages 1-25
  3. Pietro Sullo
    Pages 159-185
  4. Pietro Sullo
    Pages 187-221
  5. Pietro Sullo
    Pages 223-283
  6. Pietro Sullo
    Pages 285-291
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 293-311

About this book


Combining both legal and empirical research, this book explores the statutory aspects and
practice of gacaca courts (inkiko gacaca), the centrepiece of Rwanda’s post-genocide transitional
justice system, assessing their contribution to truth, justice and reconciliation. The
volume expands the knowledge regarding these courts, assessing not only their performance
in terms of formal justice and compliance with human rights standards, but also their actual
modus operandi.

Scholars and practitioners have progressively challenged the idea that genocide should be
addressed exclusively through ‘westernised’ criminal law, arguing that the uniqueness of
each genocidal setting requires specific context-sensitive solutions. Rwanda’s experience with
gacaca courts has emerged as a valuable opportunity for testing this approach, offering new
home-grown solutions for dealing with the violence experienced in 1994 and beyond that were
never previously tried. Due to their unique features, gacaca courts have attracted the attention
of researchers from different disciplines and triggered dichotomous reactions and appraisals.

Anchoring the assessment of gacaca courts in a comprehensive legal analysis in conjunction
with field research, this book addresses the tensions existing within the literature. Through
the direct observation of gacaca trials, interviews and informal talks with genocide survivors,
defendants, ordinary Rwandans, academics and practitioners, a purely legalistic perspective
is overcome, offering instead an innovative bottom-up approach to meta-legal concepts such
as justice, fairness, truth and reconciliation. Outlining their strengths and shortcomings, this
book highlights what aspects of gacaca courts can be useful in other post-genocide contexts,
and provides crucial lessons learned in the realm of transitional justice.

The book is primarily aimed at researchers working in, among others, the areas of international
criminal law, genocide and transitional justice, while practitioners, students and others with a
professional interest in the topics addressed may also find the issues raised relevant.

Pietro Sullo teaches public international law and international diplomatic law at the Brussels
School of International Studies of the University of Kent in Brussels. He is particularly
interested in international law, human rights, transitional justice, international criminal law
and refugee law.


Transitional Justice Post-genocide Justice Traditional Justice Systems Informal Justice Systems Gacaca Courts Rwandan Genocide Reparative Justice Restorative Justice Inkiko Gacaca Post-Conflict Reconciliation

Authors and affiliations

  • Pietro Sullo
    • 1
  1. 1.Brussels School of International StudiesUniversity of KentBrusselsBelgium

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