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The Costs of Justice

How New Leaders Respond to Previous Rights Abuses

Brian K. Grodsky

Publication Year: 2010

In The Costs of Justice, Brian K. Grodsky provides qualitative analyses of how transitional justice processes have evolved in diverse ways in postcommunist Poland, Croatia, Serbia, and Uzbekistan, by examining the decision-making processes and goals of those actors who contributed to key transitional justice policy decisions. Grodsky draws on extensive interviews with key political figures, human rights leaders, and representatives of various international, state, and nongovernmental bodies, as well as detailed analysis of international and local news reports, to offer a systematic and qualitatively compelling account of transitional justice from the perspective of activists who, at the end of a previous regime, were suddenly transformed from downtrodden victim to empowered judge. Grodsky challenges the argument that transitional justice in post-repressive states is largely a function of the relative power of new versus old elites. He maintains that a new regime’s transitional justice policy is closely linked to its capacity to provide goods and services expected by constituents, not to political power struggles. In introducing this goods variable, so common to broad political analysis but largely overlooked in the transitional justice debate, Grodsky argues that we must revise our understanding of transitional justice. It is not an exceptional issue; it is but one of many political decisions faced by leaders in a transition state.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press

Front Cover

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pp. 1


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pp. 8-9

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pp. 12-21

The dramatic end of the Cold War in the late 1980s marked a fascinating twist in the study of transitional justice, those responses to a former regime’s repressive acts following a change in political...

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1.Explaining Justice

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pp. 24-45

In this chapter, I explore the rationale for justice and theoretical arguments designed to explain under what conditions new regimes choose particular justice policies. It is worth prefacing this chapter with a reminder of my definition of transitional justice: a new or nominally new....

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2.The Justice Spectrum

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pp. 46-68

In this chapter, I discuss methodological problems that currently hinder us from effectively analyzing key determinants of justice policies, and propose a new tool to help us overcome these problems. More specifically, I argue that underspecification of the dependent...

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3. The Peculiarities of Postcommunist Justice

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pp. 69-85

This book evaluates seven frequently utilized mechanisms of justice but purposely omits one mechanism particular to postcommunist countries: lustration. I have not included lustration for several reasons. Perhaps most important, many observers have expressed...

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4. The Method of Study

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pp. 86-105

This book relies on a case study approach, using interview and archival data from four diverse postcommunist countries to explore the central research question. This study stands out in several respects,...

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5. Poland

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pp. 106-133

In 1989, following negotiations between members of the Communist Party and the Solidarity opposition movement, Poland became the first Eastern Bloc country to abandon communism. Between the 1989...

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6. Serbia and Montenegro

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pp. 134-159

Unlike their Polish counterparts, Serbia’s democratic opposition emerged in 2000 not merely from a half-century of communist rule and a decade of economic decline, but also from a series of 1990s wars that amounted to the bloodiest conflict in post-1945 Europe...

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7. Croatia

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pp. 160-181

Croatian pro-democracy political leaders who won power in late 1999 faced transitional justice challenges very similar to those of their one-time “brothers” in Serbia. Croatia had been a part of Yugoslavia since the end of World War II (and a component of the Kingdom...

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8. Uzbekistan

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pp. 182-200

Whereas new elites took power in Poland, Serbia, and Croatia, they were incarcerated, exiled, or murdered in Uzbekistan. This was not, however, a foregone conclusion early in the process of transformation. As a Soviet republic, Uzbekistan’s communist leadership...

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9. Transitional Justice in a Cross-National Perspective

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pp. 201-224

Polish demonstrator Joanna Lenartowicz, Bosnian mayor Muhamed Čehajić, and Uzbek human rights activist Shovruk Ruzimuradov lived in three worlds that at first glance appear to be far removed. These worlds violently collided when Lenartowicz was fatally beaten...

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10. Reassessing How We Think about Justice

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pp. 225-238

In many ways, transitional justice has over the past half century proved to be a misnomer. Most obviously, increased international attention has made it an ever-more permanent fixture in the international human rights regime. The rise of the International Criminal Court...


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pp. 239-315


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pp. 316-328


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pp. 329-345


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pp. 346-367

E-ISBN-13: 9780268080648
E-ISBN-10: 026808064X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268029777
Print-ISBN-10: 0268029776

Page Count: 368
Illustrations: NA
Publication Year: 2010