Introduction: Addressing Economic Violence in Times of Transition
While there is increasing momentum behind the notion that the tools of transitional justice should be marshaled in response to large-scale human rights atrocities and physical violence—including murder, rape, torture, disappearances, and other crimes against humanity—the proper role of transitional justice with respect to economic violence—including violations of economic and social rights, corruption, and plunder of natural resources—is far less certain. Historically, if mass atrocities and physical violence have been placed in the transitional justice spotlight, issues of equally devastating economic and social justice have received little attention. The marginalization of the economic within the transitional justice agenda serves to distort our understanding of conflict, and the policies thought to be necessary in the wake of conflict. This chapter argues that a more nuanced, contextualized, and balanced approach to a wider range of justice issues faced by societies in transition is necessary. To this end, this chapter proposes that one way to achieve a more balanced approach would be to reconceptualize and reorient the “transition” of transitional justice not simply as a transition to democracy and the “rule of law,” the paradigm under which the field originated, but as part of a broader transition to “positive peace” in which justice for both physical violence and economic violence receives equal pride of place.