chapter  3
15 Pages

Justice sector reform in countries recovering from conflict

In addition, historically, the reestablishment of the judicial system in a country has mainly followed the foundation of a new political order, imposed at the end of a conflict. In other words, a stable and secure political order has always represented the ‘conditio sine qua non of post-conflict reconstruction’.3 In the absence of a secure environment, any efforts to promote national reconciliation as well as to establish a functioning justice system are probably doomed to fail.4 However, recent examples like those in Iraq, Afghanistan (by military means alone) and to some extent, Kosovo and East Timor (through massive international political apparatus) show that this ‘natural paradigm’ has progressively shifted towards a new model encompassing the use of external institutional design to shape the new political order, which has not yet taken root. This seems to be a successful option when the foundations of the new political system are solid and the renovation of the political class is effectively carried out, also by means of a peace agreement or a formal surrender.5 Nevertheless, it may turn into a debilitating factor when the authority in charge fails to prevail militarily over competing forces or otherwise when it is not accepted by a relevant part of the population. As it has been sharply argued, ‘contemporary international intervention takes place in weak states, not conquered

during past interventions. According to Plunkett, although justice system reform is in principle to be performed during the post-conflict phase, in the latest UN interventions ‘the lines blurred between when the war ends and the peace begins’,7 so that international judges and lawyers end up operating as well in a kind of ‘grey area’.