Tine Destrooper - VictPart

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Description of the PI

Tine Destrooper is an associate professor at the Faculty of Law and Criminology of Ghent University and a member of the Human Rights Centre at Ghent University.

Her research focuses on victim participation in transitional justice. She currently carries out a comparative study on the long term and unforeseen effects of victim participation on victims and their communities.

Previously, she held positions at various European and American institutions, including New York University, the European University Institute, Leiden University, Wissenschaftskolleg Berlin and the Universities of Antwerp and Leuven. Here she conducted research on the consequences of violent conflict and the role of the international community in dealing with the aftermath of violent conflict. Her publications and lectures at various international forums have highlighted the often unforeseen consequences that international interventions can have for local (groups of) rights-holders.

She was previously the director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice in New York, where she gained experience in managing and publishing policy-oriented research, and where she worked with researchers, civil society organisations and policymakers at various levels.

Description of the projectvictpart.jpg

The question of how to serve justice, facilitate peaceful transitions and empower victims of past large-scale abuses is about as old as the field of transitional justice itself. Increasingly, academics and practitioners are turning to participatory approaches as a promising way to make advances regarding each of these issues. An oft-cited benefit of victim participation in transitional justice processes is that it allegedly increases the legitimacy of these processes by rendering them more locally relevant, and that it empowers participants and turns them into ambassadors of the justice process.

However, little is known about how to organize this participation in practice or under which conditions alleged benefits (for individual victims-participants or for society at large) are likely to materialize. As a result, participation is often organized in an ‘add-victims-and-stir’ way with little critical reflection about potential unforeseen or long-term effects.

Because formal and informal transitional justice processes often face significant practical, financial and political constraints, it is crucial to better understand how participatory approaches can be developed in ways that contribute to a positive and lasting legacy, especially in a world where a vast number of societies is emerging from violent conflict, and where failure to engender durable justice and peace may lead to more instability and ultimately violence.

The main objective of this project is therefore threefold, (1) to conduct a systematic empirical analysis of the scope, nature and role of victim participation in transitional justice processes, (2) to develop the critical victimology framework that is currently missing, and (3) to establish how this framework can be used to conceptualize victim participation in ways that contribute to transitional justice’s goal of engendering just, stable and secure societies.

A multi-disciplinary approach, rooted in legal studies, social psychology, political science, public administration and anthropology is proposed, which allows for a multi-dimensional understanding of these issues, both in academic and in practical terms. The research findings from this project will have the potential to enhance the stability of the global society by creating scientific results and turning them into measurable impact. They will provide policy-makers with empirically supported expertise on pressing policy issues, and, because of the project’s attention to international institutions as well as local contexts, findings will enrich our scholarly understanding of the interaction between these policy levels and apply to many post-conflict settings worldwide.