Dr Natascha Mueller-Hirth

Project Title: From transition to transformation? A victim-centred study of women’s demands for sustainable peace

The majority of armed conflicts feature both direct and structural violence and occur in countries that face severe challenges of poverty and inequality. However, transitional justice – the dominant approach to dealing with legacies of violent pasts – has historically excluded structural concerns such as socio-economic inequalities and gender justice. The needs of victims of violence themselves have often been neglected. This is particularly regrettable since continued poverty and inequality have been shown to re-fuel conflict.

The aim of the research is to identify the needs of victims after conflict in order to provide an empirical study of the relationships between transitional justice and what might be called transformative justice – the tackling of structural violence and longer-term social change in a victim-centred manner to prevent future conflict. Funding is sought to collect data on victims’ demands and their own senses of what is necessary to achieve sustainable peace, focusing on the reparative needs of women as a particularly marginalised group. Interviews and focus groups will be conducted with victims of the post-election violence in 2007/08 in Kenya.

Outputs will include submission of two articles to international journals, presentations, reports to Kenyan government agencies and human rights practioners, and a research blog. The significance of this study lies in contributing an often marginalised victim-centred perspective to our understanding of how a recurrence of violence might be prevented in post-conflict societies. It will make a theoretical and empirical contribution to emerging debates on transformative justice and will give voice to the perspectives of victims.

Awarded: Research Incentive Grant

Field: Justice

University: Robert Gordon University

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