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Between Law and Culture: Rwanda's Gacaca and Postcolonial Legality
Law and Social Inquiry (2007)
  • Ariel Meyerstein

This article recounts a clash between an establishment international NGO, Amnesty International, and the government of Rwanda over the meaning of international human rights norms in a post-conflict society. It offers a critical perspective on the mainstream human rights community’s due process critique of Rwanda’s gacaca - a system of over ten thousand local judicial bodies modeled on a precolonial communal dispute resolution the Rwandan government introduced to process the over one hundred twenty thousand suspects crowding its prisons following the 1994 genocide. This moment of norm contestation offers a lens to broader problems of norm translation facing the human rights regime.

Publication Date
Spring 2007
Citation Information
Between Law & Culture: Rwanda’s Gacaca and Postcolonial Legality, Law & Soc. Inquiry 32:2 (Spring 2007), reprinted in Law in Many Societies: A Reader (Stanford University Press, 2011), Lawrence M. Friedman, Rogelio Pérez-Perdomo, and Manuel A. Gómez (eds.).