Transitional Justice and the Prosecution of Political Leaders in the Arab Region (Hart 2017) argues that the Arab region presents the strongest challenge yet to the conventional understanding of transitional justice. Transitional justice scholarship and practice has predominantly operated on the assumption that transitions entail a shift from violent, authoritarian rule to liberal, democratic rule. As we all know, this has not been the case in the Arab region. Instead, transitional justice has served as a battleground for competing visions of justice. Demons of the past that have morphed into the present continue to hijack transitional justice processes, and in particular the prosecution of political leaders.
How can we understand the pursuit of transitional justice in the context of resurgent authoritarianism and ongoing conflict? This brings to the fore two questions that target the heart of transitional justice: what is meant by ‘transition’? And what is meant by ‘justice’?