The Politics of Technical Assistance: International involvement in Tunisia’s Transitional Justice process


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The Politics of Technical Assistance: International involvement in Tunisia’s Transitional Justice process
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Transitional Justice in Tunisia: Innovations, Continuities, Challenges
Pastor y Camarasa Alicia
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This chapter explores the international dimension of the transitional justice process that occurred in Tunisia. A tension between developing global standards and the demand for a bottom-up, tailored approach characterises transitional justice as a field. The mandate of transitional justice is integrated into post-conflict and democratic transitions, where international actors are allowed an extensive role to assist in processes. While acknowledging the dialectical nature of transitional justice, this chapter will focus on the international aspect that characterises the transitional justice process as a whole. The type of transitional justice typically advocated by international actors is characterised by a legalistic understanding, composed of a set of state-led measures and institutional reforms. It has been widely criticised by the critical strand of transitional justice literature. However, as this chapter will show, international actors’ involvement remains significant and, indeed, is essential to understanding the challenges surrounding contemporary transitional justice processes.
By examining international involvement in Tunisia’s transitional justice process, this chapter seeks to ask: how were international actors involved during the transitional justice process in Tunisia and what does this reveal about the politics of that involvement? To address these questions, the chapter draws on literature engaged with policy transfer, focusing on three major international actors who were involved in Tunisia’s transitional justice process: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ). The policy transfer framework is useful, as it reveals different layers of involvement by these three agencies; it further epitomises international involvement in transitional justice and emphasises the international dimension of transitional justice processes.
As a middle-income country with a strong legal academic community, in a relatively peaceful context, Tunisia represents a particularly appropriate case to examine international involvement in transitional justice. This chapter focuses on international actors that will be involved in future processes, and findings from Tunisia can provide cues for these. Furthermore, while the ICTJ has been at the centre of discussions in the literature, the concrete assistance from UNDP and OHCHR in transitional justice processes has not been documented in depth. Finally, to date, the involvement of international actors in Tunisia’s transitional justice process has not been discussed beyond cryptic references to the international community in academic publications. The chapter begins by showing how international involvement in transitional justice functions as a process of policy transfer, before providing an account of the multifaceted involvement by UNDP, OHCHR, and ICTJ. Finally, it outlines the dilemmas of international involvement in the Tunisian transitional justice process.
Transitional justice, Tunisia, UNDP, ICTJ, OHCHR, Transnational involvement, External actors
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10/08/2023 10:41
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01/12/2023 17:07
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