The prospect for transitional justice in Myanmar

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Harvard University


Most countries undertaking transitions from authoritarian rules to democracy seek to overcome historical divisions, achieve justice, and build a more inclusive society based on reconciliation and trust. They adopt some of transitional justice measures, such as prosecution, compensation, and truth-telling, to deal with the past. In Myanmar, currently in the early stages of democratic reforms, issues of transitional justice would soon also arise. Given that the military government will retain considerable political power even after the parliamentary elections of November 8, 2015, the key question is whether transitional justice could act as a facilitator of political transition rather than its product.

Roman David will discuss the concept of limited liberalism that captures the degree to which justice, reconciliation, and democratization are approximated. His research hypothesizes that the prospect for transitional justice is conditional on (i) beliefs in the universal tenets of justice; (ii) willingness to face up challenges posed by the military government; (iii) sensitivity to victims’ demands; and (iv) coherent demands by victims and victims’ groups.

To examine his hypotheses, David conducted a survey of 1600 respondents, including survey experiment and over 60 interviews with victims and other stakeholders. The results show that the prospect for transitional justice is conditional on political change, suggesting that transitional justice is unlikely to bring political transition.



Recommended Citation

David, R. (2015, November). The prospect for transitional justice in Myanmar. Lunch talk at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

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