Transitional Justice Speaker Series

Blueprint for Transitional Justice in the U.S. Speaker Series 2021-2022

This speaker series is presented by the Illinois Global Institute in partnership with Center for African Studies, Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, Center for Global Studies, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, European Union Center, Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies, and Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program. This series is made possible by the Chancellor’s 2021-2022 Call to Action to Address Racism & Social Injustice Research Program and is co-sponsored by the Humanities Research Institute and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Each speaker will bring a regional focus with themes bearing on transitional justice, including policing, reparations, gender justice, economic inequality/justice, educational reform, and the role of youth. These events will be hosted via Zoom.

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Previous Events:

Fionnuala Ní Aoláin—The Relevance of Transitional Justice Twenty Years After 9/11

September 30, 2021 | 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm | Watch a recording of this event here
Flyer for the first talk, information can still be found on this page.

Fionnuala Ní Aoláin is concurrently Regents Professor and Robina Professor of Law, Public Policy and Society at the University of Minnesota Law School and Professor of Law at the Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.  She has published extensively in the fields of emergency powers, counter-terrorism and human rights, conflict regulation, transitional justice and sex based violence in times of war. Professor Ní Aoláin is currently the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism (2017-), and was re-elected for a second term in August 2020.

This lecture will address the challenges and relevance of transitional justice twenty years after the events of 9/11 and in the context of the return of the Taliban to territorial control of Afghanistan. Lessons learnt over the past twenty years, and in particular the relevance of accountability, truth, justice, and reparations to the 'war on terror' will be examined.

Co-hosted with the Women & Gender in Global Perspectives Program

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Upcoming Events:

Ezequiel González-Ocantos—Transitional Justice in Latin America: Lessons for the United States?

October 21, 2021 | 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm | Register here via Zoom.
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Ezequiel González-Ocantos (Ph.D. Notre Dame, 2012) is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Oxford, and Professorial Fellow of Nuffield College. He is the author of Shifting Legal Visions: Judicial Change and Human Rights Trials in Latin America (Cambridge UP, 2016), winner of best book awards from APSA, LASA and ISA, and The Politics of Transitional Justice in Latin America: Power, Norms and Capacity Building (Cambridge UP, 2020). His work on judicial politics and other topics has also appeared in the American Journal of Political ScienceComparative Political StudiesComparative PoliticsInternational Studies QuarterlyLaw and Society Review, and The International Journal of Constitutional Law, among other journals. He is currently writing a book on the politics of corruption prosecutions in Latin America.

Since the onset of the third wave of the democratization in the 1980s, debates about transitional justice have become a permanent feature of the political landscape across Latin America, pitting pro- and anti-impunity coalitions in heated fights over memory, institutions, and the law. The protracted nature of victims’ struggles as well as the recurrence of backlash against progress in the direction of truth, justice, and peace, have turned the region into a unique site of global innovation in transitional justice policies. Much of this innovation is the result of complex political bargains crafted under narrow limits of possibility, but also of the gradual bottom-up construction of a rights-affirming legal discourse grounded in international human rights law. This discourse has successfully questioned (and sometimes replaced) an old legal orthodoxy that originally was one of the main obstacles for truth- and justice-seeking initiatives. In this talk I will describe how a combination of social mobilization and legal entrepreneurship paved the way for Latin America’s landmark achievements in the field of transitional justice, and discuss what lessons, if any, the specific genesis of these victories can offer for the United States.

Co-hosted with the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies.



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Shari Eppel, "Bones in the Forest: Exhumation and Reburial as Tools to ‘Healing The Dead’ in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe"

November 4, 2021 | 12:00-1:00pm | Register here via Zoom.

Shari Eppel is the Executive Director at Ukuthula Trust in Zimbabwe and Director at the Solidarity Peace Trust in Zimbabwe and South Africa. 


Co-hosted with the Center for African Studies.





Chungmoo Choi—How Might Transitional Justice Lead to Community Restoration?

December 3, 2021 | 3:00-4:30pm | Register here via Zoom.
Photo of Chungmoo Choi

Chungmoo Choi is Professor of Korean Studies in the East Asian Studies Department at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Healing Historical Trauma in South Korean Film and Literature (Routledge, 2020) and co-editor/translator of Voices of the Korean Comfort Women: History Rewritten from Memories (Routledge, forthcoming in 2022). 

In this presentation I will explore the relationship between affect, ethics and transitional justice by examining how South Korean society has dealt with the violent histories that occurred during the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945) and the postcolonial period. In particular, I will examine the South Korean application of the notion of transitional justice in the handling of the politically entangled Comfort Women issue that has strained the diplomatic relationship between South Korea and Japan and the politicization and controversy over the Kwangju democracy movement, the ten-day armed confrontation between the citizens of Kwangju and the military that produced both civilian and police/military casualties.

The questions I raise will include whether the measures of transitional justice, such as truth telling, achieve reconciliation among the divided communities. Further, what may be imagined for reconciliation and peace to be achieved among the divided communities so that the deep-seated distrust and trauma can be healed and broken relationships restored. I imagine affect and ethical considerations as crucial elements that may contribute to the effectivity of the legal execution of justice.

Co-hosted with the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies.



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Hakim Williams, Gettysburg College

January 25, 2022 | 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm | Register here (link will be live once available) via Zoom.

Co-hosted with the Center for Global Studies



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Katy Hayward, Queen’s University, Belfast

February 9, 2022 |1:00-2:00pm | Register here (link will be live once available) via Zoom.

Co-hosted with the European Union Center





Photo of Thula Pires

Thula Pires, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro

March 8, 2022 | 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm | Register here (link will be live once available) via Zoom.

Co-hosted by the Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies



Photo of Noura Erakat

Noura Erakat, Rutgers University, New Brunswick 

April 14, 2022 | 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm | Register here (link will be live once available) via Zoom.

Co-hosted by the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies