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Title: Exploring transitional justice in democratic states : the definition of victims in Northern Ireland and the Basque country
Author: Berastegi, Amaia Alvarez
ISNI:       0000 0004 5918 8271
Awarding Body: Ulster University
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2016
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In both Northern Ireland and the Basque Country, the debates on how to define victims of political violence mirror the debates on how we understand the past; whether we see the past as a political conflict or a problem of terrorism. This thesis investigates the relationship between these debates and transitions from conflict to peace within democratic states (ie the under-explored type of intra-democratic transitions). Specifically it asks "What is the relationship between transitional justice processes that take place in democratic states and the debates on how to define victims in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country"? Employing comparative, socio-legal and qualitative methods, the study analyses the debates on victims using a transitional justice framework; it is the first comparative examination of these two case studies using a transitional justice framework. The research found that, despite the existing controversies and hierarchies, Northern Ireland and the Basque Country have moved towards a more inclusive definition in contrast to Spain. The thesis argues that the transitional framework itself is related to the inclusive definition of victims, ie, the expansion of the definitions in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country is explained by a correlation between the definitions and the process of transition. Connected with this is the role of different narratives; the rejection of an official peace process and the adoption of a less inclusive definition of victims correlates with the adoption of a counterterrorist narrative in Spain; while in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country, the more inclusive definitions arise in the context of more complex, admittedly still contested narratives of conflict, terrorism and human rights violations. On a theoretical level, this PhD contributes to the field of transitional justice by studying one especially complex aspect of intra-democratic transitions, the contestation over victimhood. The study shows how there are various ways by which to frame transitional justice in democratic states (states dealing with historical abuses and states dealing with the legacy of a paradigmatic transitions, for instance) and adds two situations in which transitional justice applies: intra-democratic transitions, where transitional justice mechanisms are implemented in correlation with a transition; and the implementation of transitional justice mechanisms in the context of counter-terrorist policies. The thesis explores how the discourse of transitional justice is expanding to new realms and concludes by identifying future lines of research opened by this expansion.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available