Despite the growth that the field of transitional justice has experienced over the last two decades, not enough attention has been paid to its history. From the few existing works, a dominant narrative has emerged that claims that transitional justice began in 1945 with the post-World War II trials and was later frozen during the Cold War. The narrative goes that at the end of the superpowers’ antagonism, transitional justice was reinvigorated with the democratic transitions in Latin American, the development of international criminal justice and the end of apartheid in South Africa. This talk questions the prevalent account of the history of transitional justice by examining its emergence as a self-conscious discourse in the 1990s and the retrospective construction of its history beginning in 1945. It shows how the historical and epistemological circumstances amidst which transitional justice emerged as a distinct discourse have shaped the main characteristics it has today, as well as which mechanisms and case studies from the past are adopted as part of the mainstream narrative and which are excluded.



Marcos Zunino is a Legal Officer in the Defence Support Section of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Marcos has recently completed a doctoral degree at the Faculty of Law of the University of Cambridge. His research was supported by the Cambridge Trusts. In 2015/2016, he was a Scholar in Residence at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice of New York University’s School of Law. Prior to his doctoral studies, Marcos served for many years in the Argentine judiciary where he worked in cases related to Argentina’s transitional justice process. He has been a consultant for the international freedom of expression NGO Article 19 and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. He has also completed placements at the International Center for Transitional Justice and the International Criminal Court. Marcos studied law at the University of Buenos Aires and graduated with distinction. He also holds a degree of Master in International Studies, Peace and Conflict Resolution from the University of Queensland in Australia (high distinction) where he was a Rotary World Peace Fellow. He is admitted to the bars of Buenos Aires and San Isidro in Argentina.