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Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.
The 2010s marked a normative crisis between African state cooperation and international criminal law. Tensions between many African Union (AU) leaders and the International Criminal Court (ICC) have undermined the path forward for trying former African Presidents accused of atrocity crimes. By asking why former African heads of state are put on trial for atrocity crimes, I attempt to empirically ascertain the political conditions for a trial and contextualize the answer within the normative crisis. Using qualitative methods such as process tracing, I find that incoming African democratic regimes support trials based on a domestic political calculation of the costs and benefits of cooperating with international justice institutions. I argue that when viable new regimes can benefit strategically by removing the ex-leader as a political adversary and can simultaneously garner international praise and support for a trial, they instrumentalize international justice to further their political goals. While other theories explain the existence of trials through the internalization of anti-impunity and human rights norms, I argue that a rational calculus best explains the outcome of an international trial, whether at the ICC or in a hybrid forum. Finally, I argue that incoming governments can make these calculations in the state where the ex-leader committed past abuses or in a third-party state where he resides in exile.
Repatriation of Indigenous cultural property is a complex political process. Through examining the ethical frameworks, international procedures and standards, and perspectives of Indigenous descendant communities, this paper suggests what policies and procedures can promote successful repatriation efforts. Furthermore, this paper utilizes the United States as a case study because of its unique approaches for handling repatriation cases. Domestic cases surrounding the repatriation of Indigenous cultural property are dictated by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), a federal statute that acknowledges cultural sovereignty but is exclusive; whereas, for global repatriation cases, the United States adopted the 1970 UNESCO Convention. Overall, the United States’ system for repatriation was more substantial compared to other nations; however, it still only partially integrates Indigenous people into the repatriation process and leaves an ample number of loopholes that allows looting and illicit trade of cultural property to thrive. To address the challenges that currently exist in the United States’ systems of repatriation and improve global repatriation efforts as a whole, this paper provides a set of six recommendations to promote processes that are more inclusive, less burdensome, and favor Indigenous groups—instead of institutions and private collectors.
Truth commissions have become an increasingly popular mechanism for settler states to address past colonial violence. The transitional justice (TJ) literature has increasingly analyzed the use of TJ mechanisms in established democracies where no recent transition has occurred. Previous research has addressed why states adopt truth commissions, though these studies do not distinguish between transitional and non-transitional contexts. This thesis seeks to understand which mechanisms drive settler states to adopt a truth commission. Using publicly available data from the Canadian parliament, media and interviews, this thesis employs a quantitative comparative analysis of three contexts in Canada where a truth commission was adopted or rejected by the federal government: the adoption of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the rejection of an inquiry into the killing of Inuit sled dogs, and the adoption of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. I argue that settler states adopt truth commissions in response to bottom-up activism which threatens the legitimacy of the liberal settler state as the political authority. I find that in the TRC and the National Inquiry into MMIWG, domestic and transnational advocacy engages with the liberal government in power and the public to reveal the inequality between indigenous people and settlers which was authorized by the state. In response, the government will approve a truth commission in order to maintain the legitimacy of the settler state. Given the state’s liberal orientation towards truth commissions, it would be useful for transitional justice practitioners to further consider how the TJ can be decolonized.
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