SOAS University of London

London Middle East Institute

Justice Delayed, Justice Redeemed? Transitional Justice in the Arab Region

Noha Aboueldahab
Noha Aboueldahab, Brookings Doha Center

Date: 17 January 2018Time: 6:00 PM

Finishes: 17 January 2018Time: 8:00 PM

Venue: MBI Al Jaber Building, 21 Russell Square Room: MBI Al Jaber Seminar Room

Type of Event: Talk

Since the Arab uprisings, there has been a dramatic surge in the pursuit of transitional justice measures, particularly criminal prosecutions. Egypt put Mubarak and many other high-level government officials on trial. Tunisia tried Ben Ali as well as several other regime members. The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for five Gaddafi regime officials in Libya. Yemen granted immunity from prosecution for former president Ali Abdallah Saleh in return for his stepping down from power. Syrians have been actively collecting evidence and filing criminal cases in several European countries against perpetrators in the war in Syria.

Noha Aboueldahab’s new book, Transitional Justice and the Prosecution of Political Leaders in the Arab Region: A comparative study of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen (Hart, 2017) argues that the Arab region presents the strongest challenge yet to the conventional understanding of transitional justice. This predominant understanding of transitional justice assumes that a legacy of atrocities, oppression and human rights violations can only begin to be addressed when a society has transitioned from violent, authoritarian rule to liberal democratic rule.

But the Arab uprisings have provoked the exact opposite: resurgent authoritarianism and ongoing conflict. To what extent can we speak of a ‘transition’ in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings? How can transitional justice adequately reckon with the past in such ambiguous transitions? Why has there been a tendency to focus on crimes committed since the 2010/2011 Arab uprisings and not the decades of atrocities that preceded them? Should justice be delayed until adequate political and judicial institutions are in place?

Noha Aboueldahab is Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, where she researches and writes about transitional justice in the Arab region. She has worked for several UN agencies and NGOs in New York, Lebanon and Qatar. She has been interviewed by various media outlets, including Al Jazeera, BBC, Bloomberg, CNN, MSNBC, Sky News, and the Washington Post.

Chair: David Wearing, SOAS

Organiser: London Middle East Institute

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