Transitional Justice: Response to Human Rights Violations by International Institutions

  • Muna B. Ndulo
Part of the Asan-Palgrave Macmillan Series book series (APMS)


A recent United Nations report on North Korea reports of widespread human rights violations inside North Korea.1 The right to life, liberty, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and assembly are regularly violated by the government and its agents.2 Over the years, many people have been subjected to detention, torture, and forced labor in government-operated detention camps in North Korea. Oppressive rule is always associated with gross violations of human rights. One of the challenges that a unified democratic Korea would have to face is how to deal with human rights violations perpetrated in the past. In transitional justice literature relating to societies transitioning from oppressive and authoritarian rule or conflict to democratic governance, one of the major points of discussion is always what to do with perpetrators of past human rights violations when conflicts or oppressive regimes have ended. The United Nations has a long history of assisting societies devastated by conflict or emerging from repressive rule to reestablish the rule of law and develop mechanisms to deal with large-scale human rights violations. For the United Nations, transitional justice is the full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempt to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale human rights abuses, in order to ensure accountability for the abuses, serve justice, and achieve reconciliation and the transformation of society to establish a democratic society that is underpinned by human rights values.3


International Criminal Court Transitional Justice Security Force International Criminal Tribunal Universal Jurisdiction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Detailed Findings of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, UN Doc. A/HRC/25/ CRP.1, February 7, 2014.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    United Nations, Guide of the Secretary General’s United Nations Approach to Transitional Justice, March, 2010.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    United Nations Development Program, Strengthening the Rule of Law in Conflict/Post Conflict Situations: A Global Program for Justice and Security 2008–2011 (New York, 2008);Google Scholar
  4. Muna Ndulo, The Democratization Process and Structural Adjustment in Africa, 10 Ind. J. Global Legal Stud. 315, 328 (2003).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    See Richard H. Fallon, “The Rule of Law” as a Concept in Constitutional Discourse, 97 Colum. L. Rev. 1 (1997).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Tawia Ocran, “The Rule of Law as the Quest for Legitimacy”, in Law in Zambia, ed. Muna Ndulo (Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1984), 297.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Jeffrey J. Pyle, Race, Equality and the Rule of Law: Critical Race Theory’s Attack on the Promise of Liberalism, 40 B.C. L. Rev. 787 (1999).Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    Randall Peerenboom, Let One Hundred Flowers Bloom, One Hundred Schools Contend: Debating Rule of Law in China, 23 Mich. J. Int’l L. 471, 472 (2002).Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    Veron Mei-Ying Hung, China’s WTO Commitment on Independent Judicial Review: Impact on Legal and Political Reform, 52 Am. J. Comp. L. 77, 111 (2004).Google Scholar
  10. 15.
    Ahmed A. White, Rule of Law and the Limits of Sovereignty: The Private Prison in Jurisprudential Perspective, 38 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 111, 118 (2001).Google Scholar
  11. 16.
    B.O. Nwabueze, “Dangers of Absolute and Total Power,” in Ideas and Fact in Constitution Making, The Morohundiya Lectures, B.O. Nwabueze (Ibadan: Spectrum Books, 1993).Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    Louis Henkin, Commentary on International Law: Constitutionalism, Democracy and Foreign Affairs, 67 Ind. L.J. 879, 885 (1992).Google Scholar
  13. 25.
    Michael J. Dennis, Current Development: The Fifty-Sixth Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, 95 Am. J. Int’l L. 213, 313 (2001).Google Scholar
  14. 57.
    Donna J. Sullivan, Women’s Human Rights and the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights, 88 Am. J. Int’l L. 152 (1994).Google Scholar
  15. 64.
    Noted by S. Cartwright, “The Judiciary: Qualifications, Training and Gender Balance,” in Parliamentary Supremacy and Judicial Independence: A Commonwealth Approach, ed. J. Hatchard and P. Slinn (London: Cavendish Publishing Limited, 1998), 39. The issue of judicial accountability is discussed later.Google Scholar
  16. 65.
    Roberts-Wray, Commonwealth and Colonial Law (London: Stevens, 1966), 478.Google Scholar
  17. 66.
    P. T. Georges, “The Court in the Tanzania One-Party System” in East African Law and Social Change, ed. A. Sawyer, (Nairobi: East Africa Publishing House, 1967), 38.Google Scholar
  18. 70.
    J. Hatchard and M. Ndulo, Readings in Criminal Law and Criminology (Lusaka: Multimedia, 1994), 94.Google Scholar
  19. 74.
    James C. N. Paul, The Need for International Law, 14 Third World Legal Stud. 225, 229 (1997).Google Scholar
  20. 75.
    James C. N. Paul, Human Rights and the Legal Structure of Security Forces in Constitutional Orders: The Case of Ethiopia, 14 Third World Legal Stud. 129, 132 (1997).Google Scholar
  21. 78.
    John Hatchard, Individual Freedoms and the State Security in the African Context: The Case of Zimbabwe (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1993), 155 (noting that, in Zimbabwe, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and the Legal Resources Foundation are active in taking a critical stand against abuses of individual freedoms in the country and improving access to legal and information services for all sections of the population).Google Scholar
  22. 84.
    Louis Henkin, Gerald. L. Neuman, and David W. Leebron, Human Rights (New York: Foundation Press, 1999), 265.Google Scholar
  23. 85.
    Human Rights Watch, Protectors or Pretenders? Government Human Rights Commission in Africa (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2001), 13.Google Scholar
  24. 94.
    Chukwuma Innocent, The Legal Structure of the Police and Human Rights in Nigeria, 14 Third World Legal Stud. 41, 45 (1997).Google Scholar
  25. 95.
    John Hatchard, “Legal Techniques & Agencies of Accountability: Human Rights Commissions in Commonwealth Africa,” in Democratic Reform in Africa: Its Impact on Governance and Poverty Alleviation, ed. Muna Ndulo (Oxford and Athens: James Currey & Ohio University Press, 2006), 109. (Reporting that the operation of ombudsman in many African countries is “somewhat disappointing. The reluctance of citizens to bring complaints is “largely due to the ineffectiveness of the office caused by recalcitrant officials ….”).Google Scholar
  26. 111.
    Mary O’Connell et al., The International Legal System, 6th ed. (New York: Foundation Press, 2010), 500.Google Scholar
  27. 114.
    David Baker, “Victim’s Responses to Truth Commissions: Evidence from South Africa,” in Security, Reconstruction, and Reconciliation: When the Wars End, M. Ndulo ed. (New York: UCL Press, 2007), 165.Google Scholar
  28. 117.
    Jerry Fowler, “The Rome Treaty for an International Criminal Court, A Framework of International Justice for Future Generations,” Human Rights Brief 6, no. 1 (Fall 1998): 1, 4–5, 20.Google Scholar
  29. 118.
    Berth van Schaack and Ronald C. Slye, International Criminal Law and Its Enforcement: Cases and Material (New York: Foundation Press, 2010), 53.Google Scholar
  30. 121.
    Office of United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, Rule of Law-Tools for Post Conflict States Prosecution Initiatives (Geneva, 2006).Google Scholar
  31. 124.
    Ivan Simonov, Attitudes and Types of Reaction toward Past War Crimes and Human Rights Abuses, 29 Yale J. Int’l L. 343 (2004).Google Scholar
  32. 126.
    Miriam J. Aukerman, Extraordinary Evil, Ordinary Crime: Framework for Understanding Transitional Justice, 15 Harv. Hum. Rts. J. 39 (2002).Google Scholar
  33. 127.
    B. O. Nwabueze, Ideas and fact in Constitution Making, The Morohundiya Lectures (Ibadan: Spectrum Books, 1993), 189.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Baek Buhm-Suk and Ruti G. Teitel 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Muna B. Ndulo

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations