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Transitional justice refers to a variety of mechanisms established to help postconflict societies account for the war and build the peace, including war crimes tribunals, truth and reconciliation commissions, and reparations programs. The framework of transitional justice, while responsive to local actors and local realities, was largely constructed by external actors, including foreign states, international organizations, non-governmental agencies, advocates, and academics working in the fields of human rights and rule of law promotion. The gender dilemma for global and local transitional justice practitioners is the increasing awareness that most women in war-affected countries have not been well-served by the considerable analysis, resources, and programming devoted to post-conflict transition. Too often, women are worse off in the period after armed conflict than they were during the war, due to heightened risks of physical violence, deepening social misery, or extreme political marginalization. This paper argues for a rethinking of the logic, rhetoric, and direction of transitional justice so that it better serves the whole society, women and men alike. It offers one approach to this re-envisioning by proposing qualitative research among women engaged in grassroots peacebuilding working within country-specific contexts.

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Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security Occasional Paper Series

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The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security examines and highlights the roles and experiences of women in peace and security worldwide through cutting edge research, timely global convenings, and strategic partnerships. The Institute is led by Melanne Verveer, who previously served as the inaugural U.S. Ambassador for Global Women's Issues. Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton serves as its honorary founding chair. Located in Washington, D.C., the Institute leverages Georgetown University's global reach to connect academia and practice, pioneer evidence-based and policy-oriented analysis, and inspire the next generation of leaders. To learn more, visit

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Occasional Paper Series, Full Issue



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