Beyond legalism: Towards a thicker understanding of transitional justice

Kieran McEvoy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The field of transitional justice is increasingly characterized by the dominance of legalism to the detriment of both scholarship and practice. The first part of the paper examines what is meant by legalism and its consequences in the .field through a number of overlapping themes: 'legalism as seduction', the 'triumph' of human rights, and the tendency towards 'seeing like a state '. The second part considers a number of correctives to such leanings which are analysed as encouraging legal humility, exploring the human rights as development axis, and .finally developing a criminology of transitional justice. As law's place at the heart of transition from conflict is now secure, the time is right for a more honest appraisal of the limitations of legalism and a correspondingly greater willingness to countenance the role of other [non-legal] actors and forms of knowledge. 'Letting go of legalism' will both thicken the subject and deliver more effective change on the ground.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Criminology of War
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781315086859
ISBN (Print)9780754623946
Publication statusPublished - 05 Jul 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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