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Palgrave Macmillan

Transitional Justice in Established Democracies

A Political Theory

ISBN 9780230285231
Publication Date March 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series International Political Theory

Truth commissions, official apologies and reparations are just some of the transitional justice mechanisms embraced by established democracies. This groundbreaking work of political theory explains how these forms of state redress repair the damage state wrongdoing inflicts upon political legitimacy. Richly illustrated with real-life examples, the book's 'legitimating theory' explains the connections, and the conflicts, between the transitional practice of administrative, corrective and restorative justice. The book shows how political responses to state wrongdoing are part of a larger transitional history of the post-War 'rights revolution' in the settler democracies of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. The result is an incisive theoretical exploration that not only explains the rectificatory work of established democracies but also provides new ways to think about the broader field of transitional justice.

Dr Stephen Winter is Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

1. Introducing State Redress
2. Towards a Political Theory
3. Transitions and Legitimate Regimes
4. The Old Order
5. The Problems of Authorised Wrongdoing
6. Transitional Justice
7. Administrative Justice and Canada's Hong Kong Veterans
8. Corrective Justice and Japanese Americans
9. Restorative Justice and Australian Careleavers
10. Conclusion


Stephen Winter brings together transitional, redress, and liberal political theory in an illuminating approach to understanding state redress as a specifically political project of normative legitimation. This smartly written and incisively argued book sets a new bar for transitional, reparative, and historical justice theory. It is a tour de force of synoptic analysis and close consideration of specific cases of official redress in stable democracies.
Margaret Urban Walker, Donald J. Schuenke Chair in Philosophy, Philosophy Department, Marquette University, USA
This remarkable book draws together theories of transitional justice, legitimacy and political authority to explain why redress for historical injustices in Australia, Canada, the United States and New Zealand counts as transitional justice. Winter combines a description of how these states have dealt with historical injustices with a persuasive account of why wrongs of states require redress.
Janna Thompson, Faculty of Humainities and Social Sciences, Latrobe University, Australia
'Tightly argued and thoroughly provocative, Winter's study develops a rigorous descriptive theory that forces readers to reconsider the meaning and function of state redress. In so doing, his book brings clarity to a subject whose study is still muddled by emotional arguments and shaky a priori assertions [...] It challenges the orthodoxies of transitional justice scholarship, calls into question some of its principal intellectual categories, and, ultimately, expands the boundaries in which transitional justice scholars and practitioners can think and work.' - Dialogues on Historical Justice and Memory
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