Seeking justice during war: accountability in conflicted democracies.

Thumbnail Image

Persistent link to this item

View Statistics

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Seeking justice during war: accountability in conflicted democracies.

Published Date




Thesis or Dissertation


In the past several years, the transitional justice literature has generated theories concerning varying human rights accountability outcomes in states transitioning from authoritarianism and violent conflict. Most of these theories are based on transition and post-conflict dynamics. However, a subset of these cases, democracies that have experienced internal conflict, cannot accurately be explained by these theories. Human rights trials and truth-seeking measures are overwhelmingly conducted during the violence in conflicted democracies, thus it is not appropriate to theorize accountability outcomes in these cases based on transition or post-conflict dynamics. Yet, these cases continue to be included in large N datasets and research that formulates explanations on why some countries implement accountability mechanisms while others do not. I assert that it is necessary to consider these cases in a different light. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland and Spain, I argue that the causal mechanisms that shaped prosecutions and truth-seeking measures in these cases were rooted in the pre-conflict milieu. Vertical, horizontal and external relations of accountability, including political competition, civil society pressure, judicial independence and pressure from international institutions, prompted accountability mechanisms in all three countries. The variation across the cases in terms of the prosecution record and the use of truth-seeking measures is explained by the extent to which these relations of accountability were available and operating efficiently prior to the conflict. The efficiency of these relations, in turn, was shaped by the presence/absence of entrenched emergency laws.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2012. Major: Political Science. Advisor: Kathryn Sikkink. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 280 pages.

Related to




Series/Report Number

Funding information

Isbn identifier

Doi identifier

Previously Published Citation

Suggested citation

Lynch, Moira Katherine. (2012). Seeking justice during war: accountability in conflicted democracies.. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

Content distributed via the University Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor. By using these files, users agree to the Terms of Use. Materials in the UDC may contain content that is disturbing and/or harmful. For more information, please see our statement on harmful content in digital repositories.