“In the ten years since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein there have been a lot of efforts by the American-led transitional government – and then by the Iraqi government after the return to sovereignty – to over come the past,” says Professor and H. Albert Young Fellow in Constitutional Law Erin Daly
of Iraqi efforts to transition to democracy and overcome old wounds.
Reconciliation in divided societies has long been of interest to Daly, who previously wrote Reconciliation in Divided Societies: Finding Common Ground
with Jeremy Sarkin, and so she was pleased to have the opportunity to travel to Jerusalem for the 2nd Annual Minerva Jerusalem International Conference on Transitional Justice. The conference, titled Transitions into Democracy: Contemporary Chances and Challenges, was held from October 28th through 30th, and Daly was invited to speak on panel about The Impact of Transitional Justice on Democracy.
Her presentation, “Transitional Justice in Iraq: What Went Wrong and What, if Anything, Went Right,” was based on a book she is writing tentatively titled Transitional Justice in Iraq: Reconciliation after Saddam
Observing that other countries in the Middle East could look to the transition process in Iraq for both positive and negative lessons, she discussed the impact of regular elections, the adoption of a constitution, and the development of government institutions designed to protect human rights. She also discussed her belief that those concrete developments have had more meaningful impacts then symbolic developments such as the trial of Saddam Hussein.
Renowned Chilean human rights activist and University of Chile Professor of Law Jose Zalaquett, a major figure in the field of transitional justice, served as the keynote speaker for the conference. His talk, “Assessing Three Decades of Transitional Justice,” looked at developments in the field since its birth in the 1980s.