2013 Symposium Speakers
Ruti G. Teitel, keynote speaker
Ruti G. Teitel is the Ernst C. Stiefel Professor of Comparative Law at the New York Law School. Teitel, who also is a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and affiliated visiting professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is the author of "Humanity's Law" and "Transitional Justice" and many articles and book chapters on international and comparative law.
She also is the founding co-chair of the American Society of International Law Interest Group on Transitional Justice and Rule of Law.
Paulo Barrozo is an assistant professor at Boston College Law School. His work focuses on criminal law (national and international) and legal theory (applied and general). He received an SJD from Harvard Law School and a PhD in Political Science from the Rio de Janeiro University Research Institute. Before joining Boston College Law School, Barrozo was a Clark Byse Teaching Fellow and a graduate fellow in jurisprudence at Harvard Law School. As a Lecturer in Social Thought at Harvard University, Barrozo was a 10-time recipient of the Distinction in Teaching award and the first recipient of the Stanley Hoffman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. In addition to his academic work, Barrozo is an active advocate for the rights of the neurodiverse and the unparented, appearing before international bodies such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations.
Barrozo's presentation, "What are Transitions For? Atrocity, Justice, and the Political," will address the question, "What is transitional justice supposed to transition into?" Transitional justice models and debates insufficiently take the political into account, thus failing both transition and justice. The political--which includes but is certainly not reducible to ordinary politics--has to count in at least two ways. First, the cognitive, attributive, punitive, and normative dimensions of justice in transitions from atrocity ought to make place both for claims from and in the name of victims as an indictment of cruelty and for the demands of structural mercy. Second, consideration of the political must lead to the imagination of the conditions under which politics might be possible in the future of societies emerging from atrocity. The voice of victims, the rejection of cruelty, the requirements of structural mercy, and the conditions for politics meet at the intersection where societies become aware of what they have done to themselves and to others and of what they wish to become. At stake in what societies have done and in what they become are the habits of mind and institutions that may keep atrocities afar. Only then transitional justice transitions into the political, carrying thus the hope of more lasting peace and justice. The work of the political is, sociologically speaking, that of social cohesion and self-preservation; existentially and morally, and as long as people share their lives and fates, the work of the political is that of hope.
Anat Biletzki is the Albert Schweitzer Professor of Philosophy at Quinnipiac University, having been professor of philosophy in Tel Aviv University since 1979. She has traveled widely as a visiting fellow and professor at, among others, Cambridge University, Harvard University, Boston University, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, MIT, and Bergen University, Norway. Her publications include books and articles on Ludwig Wittgenstein, Thomas Hobbes, analytic philosophy, political thought, digital culture, and human rights. She has served as chair of the Graduate School of Cultural Studies and of the Philosophy Department at Tel Aviv University and was a member of Israel's Ministry of Education committee for teaching philosophy. Biletzki has been active in the peace movement and in several human rights projects in Israel for over thirty years. She was chairperson of the board of B'Tselem - the Israeli Information center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (2001-2006) and was nominated among the "1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005".
Biletzki's presentation, "Remembrance and Acknowledgement as Necessary Conditions of (re)Conciliation," will address the question, "Can conciliation - not necessarily reconciliation - be considered before warfare and conflict have ceased?" The conventional reading of dialogues of transitional justice places them at a point somewhat after peace has been made and before full reconciliation has been achieved. But what are the options of conciliation in times and places where conflict is endemic and peace virtually unachievable? This article will tell the story of Zochrot - Remembering - an Israeli organization devoted to promoting Jewish Israel's remembrance and acknowledgement of the 1948 Nakba - Catastrophe - which destroyed hundreds of Palestinian villages and resulted in hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees. The discourse effected by Zochrot, both among Jewish Israelis and between them and the Palestinians, goes in the opposite direction, insisting that acknowledgement of and accountability for past wrongs (by a clear perpetrator on a clear victim) are not only a moment of conciliation but must, in such intractable cases, precede any conceivable peace-making. If correct, such a conceptual turn also carries political implications for negotiations, and cultural repercussions on identity and community.
Nir Eisikovits is associate professor of legal and political philosophy at Suffolk University, where he co-founded and directs the graduate program in ethics and public policy. Nir's research focuses on the moral and political dilemmas arising after war. His recent book, published by Brill, is titled: "Sympathizing with the Enemy: Reconciliation, Transitional Justice, Negotiation". He is also co-editor of the forthcoming volume "Theorizing Transitional Justice" to be published next year by Ashgate.
Nir has written numerous articles on political reconciliation, transitional justice, the role of forgiveness in politics, truth commissions and the ethics of war. He is currently writing a new book on truces and ceasefires. An Israeli attorney, Eisikovits earned his Ph.D. from Boston University in 2005. He is a senior research fellow at the International Center for Conciliation. In addition to his scholarly work, Nir comments frequently on the Middle East conflict for major American newspapers and magazines. His op-eds and essays have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, the Miami Herald, the National Interest and the Forward among others.
Eisikovits will present, "Peace versus Justice in Transitional Settings," which takes up a recent discussion concerning the nature of transitional justice: is it an ordinary form of liberal democratic justice that is simply applied in a unique context (namely that of a state's coming into being), or is it sui generis a special kind of justice arising from the conditions and circumstances that pertain during transitions? Answering this question requires understanding the political and moral goals officials tend to pursue in transitional settings. It also requires mapping out the possible tensions between such goals. Once these tasks are accomplished, it becomes easier to describe the nature of transitional justice. In part one, Eisikovits describes the different aims of transitional justice projects. In part 2, he argues that given the friction between these aims, transitional justice settings are defined by the prevalence of the so-called peace versus justice dilemma. He also argues that this dilemma is both real and insolvable. It cannot simply be argued away. As such it is best described as a paradox rather than a debate. Part three discusses the implications of this description for the debate about the nature of transitional justice.
Lisa J. Laplante is an associate professor at New England Law School/Boston where she also directs the Center of International Law and Policy. Before arriving at NELS, Laplante was interim director of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut following her time as a visiting assistant professor at UConn Law School. Before joining the legal academy, Laplante participated in Peru's transitional justice experience in various capacities for six years, beginning as a researcher with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as a grantee of the Notre Dame University Transitional Justice Program. She also conducted ethnographic fieldwork after receiving a grant from the United States Institute of Peace, resulting in prize winning scholarship in both law reviews and peer reviewed journals. Additionally, she co-founded the Praxis Institute for Social Justice, where she served as deputy director.
For the last decade, she has served as a legal adviser for victims groups, assisting with litigation before the Inter-American Human Rights System. Because of this work, she was invited to be a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton (IAS) for the academic year 2007-8. Laplante earned her JD from New York University School of Law where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Scholar. Following graduation she was a Furman Fellow Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First).
Laplante will present "Trials and Memory Wars." Despite the legacy of the Nuremberg trials after World War II, the field of transitional justice originated to study the experiences of countries like Argentina and Chile that opted for non-judicial responses to political violence and repression. For many years, it was argued that alternative approaches like truth commissions and reparations programs were the only possible ways to redress the suffering of victims when amnesty and negotiated peace settlements foreclosed the possibility of criminal trials. Eventually, non-judicial remedies became important in their own right, especially as they were viewed as important for providing forums for silenced victims to tell their version of the past and contribute to a nation's collective memory. Victim testimonies became a powerful vehicle for challenging the powerful elite's monopoly on truth which often denied or justified past atrocities and thus combat impunity and assure accountability. Yet, the demand for criminal justice never went away. Starting in the 1990s, incremental legal and global changes helped to reinsert criminal trials into the transitional justice formula. Legal challenges to amnesty laws and the precedent of international and hybrid tribunals helped to decentralized criminal justice to Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Cambodia. Most recently, a new phase sees wholly national human rights trials of former heads of state and high level officials, most notably in Latin America. Given the newness of these trials, there are still many questions that need to be explored, in particular how criminal trials impact, promote or thwart memory work in transitional justice settings. This presentation examines these questions through the experiences of Peru and Guatemala, each of which prosecuted former heads of state in recent years. While it is clear that these trials, like truth commissions, created a forum for victim testimonies to contest dominant elite versions of the past, it is not certain that this process successfully discredited the powerful elites' longstanding monopoly on interpreting the past. Rather, these trials took place in highly contested battlefields over memory. The military, government and business owners negated or attacked the version of history proffered by victims, often through sympathetic media channels. And the adversarial nature of the trial further polarized the two sides of this memory war. The author will discuss whether the contentious memory politics spurred by criminal trials is simply a necessary step towards building democracy and a healthy marketplace of ideas or rather constitutes a harmful backsliding in the attempt to reconcile a society and create a collective memory.
Each presentation will be followed by panel commentary presented by students and scholars. Kindly contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-582-3221 for more information.