With a bit of delay, the United Nations University Press has published a new volume edited by Vesselin Popovski and Monica Serrano. Based on a research grant and a conference held at Oxford University in 2009, the volume examines transitional justice comparatively in Latin America and Eastern Europe and focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of accountability mechanisms. I authored the chapter on Romania, which looked at court trials, the Tismaneanu history commission, lustration, and access to secret files.

The volume is presented this way on the UNU Press website: “The decline of authoritarianism in Latin America and Eastern Europe marked the end of a dark chapter in the history of these societies. In both regions, transition to democracy was accompanied by distinct efforts to come to terms with the traumatic experiences of the past and to demand accountability from the oppressors. The impact of these efforts rippled far beyond national boundaries, expanding the frontiers of international justice, and yielding indelible lessons and inspiration.

As these societies crossed the uncharted waters of transition and liberalization, one difficult question remained: How to reconcile the need for democratic stability in the present and future with the imperative of truth and justice for the past? This was an unprecedented test: societies made their way forward often through trial and error; steps ahead were followed by steps back.

After Oppression aims to enquire into the effectiveness of various accountability mechanisms. Drawing comparisons from cases studies in Latin America and Eastern Europe, the book demonstrates that while there are many different paths to truth and justice, all depend on continued efforts in order to reach them. In many cases these efforts also create favourable conditions for the development of a resilient human rights culture. The experiences across regions show that democratic consolidation and accountability for past human rights violations are closely related, if independent, processes. This accessible book makes an important contribution towards better understanding those processes and the relationship between them.”

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