Wielding the Gavel or Balancing the Scales? Domestic Legal Systems and Post-Conflict Justice


This study analyzes the institutional variation across domestic legal systems, with a focus on common law system’s adherence to precedent and reduced recourse to judicial deference, as well as on the degree of independence afforded to courts. These institutional qualities of judiciaries provide the opportunity for courts to play a more active role in the implementation of post-conflict justice, increasing uncertainty for other policymakers concerning the ultimate contours of post-conflict justice processes. To reduce such uncertainty, policymakers ensconced in these types of institutional contexts will be less likely to implement post-conflict justice. Using data from the Post-Conflict Justice Dataset, we find that states with common law systems are less likely to pursue and implement post-conflict justice compared to states with civil or Islamic law systems. Moreover, independent courts will be less likely to pursue mixed or restorative forms post-conflict justice, though the impact of judicial independence is weak overall.

Journal of Conflict Resolution