Publication / Transition Assistance

Changing the Narrative: The Role of Communications in Transitional Justice

This is the second of a three-part IFIT series on contemporary challenges of transitional justice.

The publication argues that communications and narrative must occupy a much more central part of the vision of transitional justice. For too long, war crimes tribunals and truth commissions have tried to tell too much of the storyline of mass abuse on their own, disconnected from a larger national conversation and societal narrative that seek to re-imagine a different future in the aftermath of conflict or authoritarian rule. Some of the most powerful voices shaping such narratives – media, public intellectuals and artists – have been treated as just one more type of stakeholder, rather than as distinctive protagonists in creating the possibility of transformative results.

The publication asserts that transitional justice bodies should abandon the ‘our work speaks for itself’ philosophy that has predominated during the last 20 years. Instead, they should proactively insert themselves in the contest of creating discourse, by building productive relations with influential news and social media, and by organising and galvanising constituencies with a deep stake in the process of forging a new national narrative.

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