Document Type

Book Review

Publication Title

Journal of International Criminal Justice

Publication Date




Why do truth commissions emerge following some conflicts but not others? Jamie Rowen tackles this question in Searching for Truth in the Transitional Justice Movement. Rowen approaches this topic through a detailed study of three jurisdictions: the former Yugoslavia, Colombia, and the United States. Although truth commissions did progress in Colombia, they stalled in both the former Yugoslavia in the wake of the Balkan Wars as well as in the United States in regard to the conduct of US officials after the events on 11 September 2001. Rowen unpacks what happened and what failed to happen — and why — in each of these three jurisdictions.

Rowen structures her book around national jurisdictions. In other words, she turns to places as units of analysis. Discussion could also be grounded in conceptual spaces, to wit, kinds of human rights abuses and types of abusers. It is on this latter note that the compelling book, authored by Leonie Steinl, enters the mix as a complement to Rowen’s innovative work. Steinl examines how law and justice suffuse and infuse child soldiers. Steinl normatively interrogates how questions around child soldiers should intersect with transitional justice initiatives. Steinl picks up the toughest questions: how to approach the child who, subject to a variety of conditions, murders, maims or mangles others? What does justice mean for these others, which could well include children; and what does it mean for the child who commits the hurt, who too is a victim?



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