EU485      Half Unit
Post-Conflict Justice and Reconciliation in Europe and Beyond

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Denisa Kostovicova CBG.7.03


This course is available on the MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe (LSE & Sciences Po), MSc in European and International Public Policy, MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Bocconi), MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Gender (Rights and Human Rights), MSc in Gender, Peace and Security, MSc in International Migration and Public Policy and MSc in International Migration and Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). In previous years we have been able to provide places for all students that apply but that may not continue to be the case.

Course content

The pursuit of justice in the aftermath of mass atrocity and gross human rights violations has become a norm in a globalised post-Cold War world. It rests on the premise that states and societies ought to engage with the difficult past in order to transition from conflict to peace. But, the limitations of transitional justice practices, such as war crimes trials, truth commissions, reparations and others, are now evident. Instead of promoting peace and reconciliation, they have often had the opposite impact: they have further divided communities, distorted the truth about suffering, and traumatised rather than dignified the victims. With a comparative focus on transitional justice practices in Europe and elsewhere, this course examines how the pursuit of post-conflict justice is theorised and tackles the puzzle of its unintended effects in societies transitioning from conflict and repressive rule.

The course starts with a lecture focused on the Ukraine war to introduce transitional justice as a field of study and practice. Following the introductory part that relates the emergence of a global norm of transitional justice to the lessons from Europe’s history, the course proceeds with an examination of key mechanisms of transitional justice in various contexts: international trials, truth and reconciliation commissions, and lustrations, as well as with more recent practices, such as the role of art in transitional justice and reconciliation, and the role of social media, such as digital memory activism in reckoning with past wrongs. Some of the examples we will examine include the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, de-Baathification process in Iraq, photography about the Rwandan genocide.

Theoretically informed and empirically grounded, the course adopts a multidisciplinary approach to address the question how we know and study the effects of transitional justice. It reflects critically on theorising, methods, and data in transitional justice research, and discusses implications for policy making.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 25 hours across Autumn Term. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Autumn Term.

The course will provide or mediate additional learning opportunities, such as research seminars on topics directly linked to the theme(s) covered in the course. These will serve to reinforce learning objectives by creating an opportunity for students to engage with core issues outside regular classes.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 presentation and 1 essay in the AT.

Indicative reading

  • Bakiner, Onur (2016) Truth Commissions: Memory, Power, and Legitimacy (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press)
  • Chinkin, Christine and Kaldor, Mary (2018) International Law and New Wars (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
  • Cohen, Stanley (2000) States of Denial: Knowing About Atrocities and Suffering (Cambridge: Polity Press)
  • Duyvesteyn, Isabelle and Angstrom, Jan (eds) (2005) Rethinking the Nature of War (London: Frank Cass)
  • Fridman, Orli (2022) Memory Activism and Digital Practices After Conflict (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press)
  • Heller, Kevin Jon (2011) The Nuremberg Military Tribunals and the Origins of International Criminal Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
  • Hughes, James and Denisa Kostovicova (eds) (2018) Rethinking Reconciliation and Transitional Justice After Conflict (Abingdon: Routledge)
  • Kostovicova, Denisa (2023) Reconciliation by Stealth: How People Talk About War Crimes (Ithaca: Cornell University Press)
  • Orentlicher, Diane (2018) Some Kind of Justice: The ICTY’s Impact in Bosnia and Serbia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
  • O’Rourke, Catherine (2013), Gender Politics in Transitional Justice (Abingdon: Routledge)
  • Roht-Arriaza, Naomi, Mariezcurrena, Javier (eds) (2006) Transitional Justice in the Twenty-First Century: Beyond Truth versus Justice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
  • Sharp, Dustin N. (2018), Rethinking Transitional Justice for the Twenty-First Century: Beyond the End of History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
  • Shall, Rosalind, Waldorf, Lars, Hazan, Pierre (eds) (2010) Localizing Transitional Justice: Interventions and Priorities after Mass Violence (Stanford: Stanford University Press).
  • Teitel, Ruti (2013) Humanity’s Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press)


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the WT.

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2022/23: 16

Average class size 2022/23: 8

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills