Democratizing justice in the post-conflict Balkans: The dilemma of domestic human rights activists

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Years of international and national accountability efforts in the former Yugoslavia have only partially helped post-conflict societies to transition. To complement retributive justice efforts more recently, human rights activists have launched a campaign to establish a regional truth commission. This article explores the intricate efforts among nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in several states across the region - particularly Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia - to coordinate this movement. Drawing on participant observation and in-depth interviews, this study illustrates the movement's struggle from within - caused by the conflicting interests of its members - and from outside, as it seeks support from international and region-specific organizations as well as national governments. While activists have remained unsuccessful in institutionalizing new truth spaces, this article argues that the state-centric strategy of human rights advocates during the campaign widened the gap between the activist leaders and victims' groups, their principal supporters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-268
Number of pages26
JournalCEU Political Science Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Former yugoslavia
  • Human rights activism
  • Post-conflict justice
  • Truth commission


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