Speaker: Christopher Wiley Shay, Research Fellow, International Security Program

Previous research has yielded mixed results about whether transitional justice prosecutions help liberalize states. Some scholars have even warned that prosecutions are likely to backfire. This seminar shines new light on this debate by specifying the conditions under which trials are likely to help — either by bolstering the rule of law or diminishing human rights abuse. Leveraging original data on trial quality and a difference-in-differences research design, the speaker shows that trials only improve the rule of law when they are implemented according to high standards of due process. Because the rule of law is thought to be an important driver of economic growth, this finding helps to justify the enormous expense at which transitional justice prosecutions are often conducted. Meanwhile, no evidence comes to light to support the assertion that trials diminish political killings or the use of torture.

Everyone is welcome to join us online via Zoom! Please register in advance for this seminar: https://harvard.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMpceitqzwvGtZLXXfOxtAAyX4ipdZ2IWh2

For more information, email the International Security Program Assistant at susan_lynch@harvard.edu.