Journal Article

Releasing Transitional Justice from the Technical Asylum: Judicial Reform in Guatemala seen through Technē and Phronēsis

Marcos Zunino

in International Journal of Transitional Justice

Volume 5, issue 1, pages 99-118
Published in print March 2011 | ISSN: 1752-7716
Published online January 2011 | e-ISSN: 1752-7724 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ijtj/ijq026
Releasing Transitional Justice from the Technical Asylum: Judicial Reform in Guatemala seen through Technē and Phronēsis

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The application of universal ideas to specific settings is a crucial aspect of transitional justice. Yet, that application awakens tensions between universal and local conceptions of justice. This article considers the judicial reform programme carried out in Guatemala after its internal conflict. I use Hans-Georg Gadamer’s concepts of technē and phronēsis to assess the programme and to suggest an alternative. I argue that the reforms were underpinned by technē, which involves choosing the appropriate means to attain an end. This technical approach entailed a reliance on indicators and expertise that resulted in a self-defeating project, where the process (re)produced the phenomena it strove to eliminate: impunity and violence. As an alternative, I suggest a model that relies on phronēsis, which would establish a dialogical relationship between universal values and particular circumstances. It would be undertaken in three layers: one involving the universal and the local, another embracing the means and the end, and the last engaging legal institutions with an ideal justice.

Journal Article.  9336 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration ; Public International Law ; Human Rights

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