NGOs Impact on Transitional Justice
: The Cases of Uganda and Myanmar in Perspectives

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis examines the impact of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on transitional justice. NGOs have become a firmly entrenched part of post-conflict justice mechanisms. Yet, current debates about the efficacy of transitional justice have tended to neglect the impact of NGOs within the conflict affected communities. On the other hand, there are scholarly concerns about the growing influence of international NGOs in the field of International Criminal Law (ICL), seen as part of a global justice cascade. This thesis not only responds to these concerns, but engages with the debates, drawing on theoretical insights from the scholarly field of transitional justice, whilst utilising the theory of legitimacy as an analytical framework to examine the impact of NGOs on the work of transitional justice institutions.
In terms of methodology, the thesis takes a comparative approach, utilising two case studies: Uganda and Myanmar. It combines doctrinal and socio-legal empirical research, using data from secondary sources which is complemented with primary data from qualitative interviews. It also draws upon information from my experiences.
The findings reveal two main aspects of the impact of NGOs on transitional justice: firstly, a normalization of international criminal justice through transnational civil society coalitions; and secondly, the use of victims’ rights discourses and work which legitimises international criminal justice norms and institutions within the conflict-affected communities. The analysis of these findings shows how NGO participation in transitional justice enhances global governance. It is argued that besides legitimisation of transitional justice, the work of international NGOs also enhances global governance and the hegemony associated with it within the Global South. As such, the thesis also proposes ways of diffusing the hegemonic forms of global justice, opening up sightlines for more research on the role of emerging regional and sub regional avenues for accountability.

Date of Award21 Mar 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorLeila Choukroune (Supervisor) & Panos Kapotas (Supervisor)

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