Faculty of Law

Monash University

Postgraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2014 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Law
OfferedNot offered in 2014



The purpose is to give prospective students a good understanding of the content of the unit. Your summary should be at least half a page. (Note: The summary is published on the web.)
The term 'transitional justice' refers to the various judicial and non-judicial measures that may be implemented in order to redress a legacy of human rights abuses. Such measures include criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, reparations and different forms of institutional reform.
This unit will begin by providing an overview of the concept of transitional justice and the different transitional justice mechanisms in order to provide the basic theoretical framework for the contextual analysis which comprises the essence of this unit.
Following an exploration of the theoretical framework we then begin to engage in a detailed analysis of a number of transitional justice programmes in order to gain an in-depth understanding of the operation of transitional justice mechanisms in practice. With respect to each case study we will consider: the transitional justice mechanisms which were implemented, the success of the different transitional justice mechanisms, hurdles faced in implementing such mechanisms, criticisms of the implementation, and the interaction between the different mechanisms.
For example, in the case of South Africa we will analyse: the nature of the apartheid regime and the harms perpetrated by this regime, the end of apartheid and the nature of the regime change, the establishment of a new constitution which protects both civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. We will then proceed to engage in detailed analysis of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including the amnesty programme established in conjunction with the Commission, and will consider the other transitional justice mechanisms which have been implemented in South Africa and the criticisms which have been directed at the programme as a whole. For example, the lack of follow-up prosecutions has been the subject of a significant amount of criticism.
In addition to exploring the transitional justice programmes implemented in different countries, we will also engage in a comparative analysis of the various case studies.


On completion of this unit students should:

  • have an understanding of prosecutions as a mechanism for dealing with a legacy of human rights abuse;
  • have an understanding of truth commissions as a mechanism for dealing with a legacy of human rights abuse;
  • have an understanding of the role of various forms of reparations schemes in dealing with a legacy of human rights abuse;
  • have an understanding of other traditional and community responses to human rights abuse and social rupture, particularly conflict affected communities;
  • have an understanding of the concept of institutional reform in the context of a society addressing a legacy of human rights abuse;
  • have an in-depth understanding of the implementation of specific transitional justice programmes (such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa) and the criticisms which have been directed at such programmes; and
  • have insight into the ways in which the various transitional justice mechanisms could be utilised in a range of contexts, including in Australia.


One research assignment (3,750 words): 50%
One take-home examination (3,750 words): 50%

Chief examiner(s)

Workload requirements

24 contact hours per teaching period (either intensive, semi-intensive or semester long, depending on the Faculty resources, timetabling and requirements).

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study