Justice During Transitions: Policies that reflect African Realities


Cori Wielenga
Christopher Changwe Nshimbi


Transitional justice interventions, particularly in Africa, have failed. In this context, there is a growing interest in tradition-based community-led practices for resolving justice. Yet little is known or understood about these practices on their own terms, and what role they play in transitional justice on the continent. This volume challenges some of the underlying assumptions of current responses to mass violence on the continent, including the way these are embedded in state-centricism and an international justice system that lacks relevance in relation to the day-to-day realities of rural African communities. Through the case studies of Zimbabwe, Burundi and Mozambique the volume explores some of the limitations and possibilities with regard to justice during transitions.

"The reality of Africans living across multiple identities, using related cultural and traditional practices while defining and defying modernity and its attendant norms and institutions remains a fascinating thing to observe and to study. The area of justice, both conceptually and practically is not exempt from this. At a time when Africans are bringing to bear their own lived experiences through scholarship, art, policy decision-making and practise, this book is a timely and critical contribution to the ongoing conversation between Africans, their counterparts in other parts of the global South and of course "Western paradigms' of governance and justice. Congratulations to the editors and the authors on this seminal work."

  • Shuval Busuman Nyoni, Executive Director, African Leadership Centre, Nairobi, Kenya

"This is a timely and relevant collection of insightful and cogently researched chapters that highlights the importance of informal justice systems in enhancing local ownership and agency in addressing past violation sand laying the foundations for durable peacebuilding and reconciliation. It is a must read for all practitioners, analysts and policy makers who have an interest in building sustainable peace in societies across Africa,"  

  • Tim Murithi, Head o! Peacebuilding Interventions Programme, Institute !or Justice and Reconciliation, and Extraordinary Professor of African Studies, University of Free State and Stellenbosch University, South Africa


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Author Biographies

Cori Wielenga

is the Director of the Centre for Mediation in Africa and an Associate Profes or in the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Her research interest is in non-state actors in mediation processes and the intersection of formal and informal governance and justice systems during transitions. This has led to in-depth research on Rwanda’s gacaca courts, South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and comparative projects on mediation processes, and informal justice and governance systems in South Africa, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia. Findings from these projects are intended to inform emerging peacebuilding, mediation and transitional justice policies and guidelines in Africa and further abroad.

Christopher Changwe Nshimbi

is SARChI (South African Research Chairs Initiative) Research Chair in the Political Economy of Migration in the SADC Region and Associate Professor in the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. His research focuses on migration, borders, regional integration, the informal economy, and water governance. He sits in on regional and international technical working groups on trade, labour, migration and water governance. He is also a member of the Platform for African European Studies (PAES), the African Borderlands Research Network (ABORNE), the Association of Borderlands Studies (ABS), nd the African Commission of the International Geographical Union (IGU).


November 9, 2023