Political reconciliation, punishment, and grudge informers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this paper I focus on a fundamental legal dilemma that the legacy of systematic injustice characteristically creates following periods of civil conflict and repressive rule. In the aftermath of injustice there is often a strong urge to punish those who committed morally egregious acts of injustice, but it is challenging to find legal grounds for such punishment. To explain this dilemma I summarize the case of the grudge informer. I then survey the different justifications for punishment found in the literature, concentrating on the idea that it is important to (re-)build a just order and sense of justice within transitional communities. To provide resources for understanding what constitutes a just order and for evaluating punishment's contribution to this order, I articulate a conception of just political relationships, which are realized in a just order. I then return to the case of the grudge informer and explain how punishment may facilitate the creation of a just order by fostering some of the social and moral conditions that underpin it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationJustice, Responsibility and Reconciliation in the Wake of Conflict
EditorsAlice MacLachlan, Allen Speight
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9789400752016
ISBN (Print)9789400752009
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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