Justice and transition in Cambodia 1979-2014: process, meaning and narrative

Gray, T. 2014. Justice and transition in Cambodia 1979-2014: process, meaning and narrative. PhD thesis University of Westminster Westminster Law School

TitleJustice and transition in Cambodia 1979-2014: process, meaning and narrative
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsGray, T.
Abstract

The Cambodian genocide and its aftermath are unique in that key leaders are on

trial thirty years after their regime fell. This creates particular problems : the UNbacked trials (ECCC) assume the normative aims of the transitional justice

paradigm, but exist in context of multiple ‘transitions’ preceding or running

concurrent to them, creating complex competing and complementary ideas about

what constitutes ‘justice.’ Over the previous thirty years transition was a social process; alongside legalistic input it included (and still includes) religious

discourse, ceremony, ritual and modes of expression not employed or recognised

in courts. This thesis concerns the many and dynamic ways in which the concept

of justice is discussed, narrated and manifested both inside and outside formal

mechanisms.

The thesis concludes that the meaning of justice resides in a nexus of memory,

time and imagination emergent from the act of telling the story, in a way that

effectively lodges it within intergenerational cultural memory. Justice is a process without fixed ends.

Justice necessarily involves narrative; the way the past is narrated is key

to the application and realisation of justice. Expanding on Lyotard’s theory of

Grand Narratives, I contend that justice narrates itself through ‘phrase regimes’ which I explore within three legalistic processes : the People’s Revolutionary

Tribunal , the trial of Pol Pot , and the narrative streams emerging from the hybrid United Nations/ Royal Government of Cambodia Extraordinary Chambers in the

Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) . I contend each of these demands narrative

conformity to ideological and political templates (Marxism, Liberalism). I further contend that these grand narratives collapse in Cambodia. Their limitations are

exposed on encounter with what Ricoeur calls ‘the small voices of history.’ In

‘small’ narrations, via socio-cultural processes such as religious ritual, legalistic narratives of justice may overlap, but the individual voices often transgress, or are marginalised by, the grand narratives.

The latter part of the thesis goes on to explore transition and justice

from ‘outside’ legalistic mechanisms, and discusses ideas of justice arising from within the society in whose interests these mechanisms allegedly

act. Through observing and attending numerous religious ceremonies and

personally collecting 59 ethnographic interviews with monks, former KR cadres,

witnesses, civil parties, historical and cultural figures from multiple communities in 10 provinces in the country I have established some basis for situating

individual voices into a specifically Cambodian intellectual context.

Year2014
FileTallyn_GRAY_2014.pdf
Publication dates
Completed2014

Related outputs

Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge trials in 2012: a year in review
Gray, T. 2013. Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge trials in 2012: a year in review. The Westminster Law Review. 2 (2).

Justice and the Khmer Rouge: concepts of just response to the crimes of the democratic Kampuchean regime in Buddhism and the extraordinary chambers in the courts of Cambodia at the time of the Khmer Rouge tribunal
Gray, T. 2011. Justice and the Khmer Rouge: concepts of just response to the crimes of the democratic Kampuchean regime in Buddhism and the extraordinary chambers in the courts of Cambodia at the time of the Khmer Rouge tribunal. Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University, Sweden.

Permalink - https://westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk/item/8yqqy/justice-and-transition-in-cambodia-1979-2014-process-meaning-and-narrative


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