Amnesty in the age of accountability

Tricia D. Olsen, Leigh A. Payne, Andrew G. Reiter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations


Is amnesty an appropriate response to past human rights atrocities? This is the question that motivates this volume. That seemingly simple inquiry provokes many more questions. For those who answer “yes,” for example, we would probe “under what conditions?” For those who answer “no,” we might ask, “why have amnesties persisted despite the age of accountability?” The authors in this volume, however, do not give simple “yes” or “no” answers to the underlying question. They instead thoughtfully reflect on the conditions, relationships, patterns, and outcomes they observe in their research on amnesties and accountability in the contemporary era. In this conclusion, we aim to summarize the main points that emerge from this set of historical, philosophical, cross-national, statistical, and qualitative case study analyses of amnesties. We begin by situating the arguments made in the previous chapters within the broader context of the transitional justice literature regarding amnesty. We then empirically examine the persistence of amnesty in the age of accountability. The third section of the chapter explores the multiple ways in which states have combined amnesty and accountability. In the last section of the chapter, we consider the future of amnesties and accountability based on the analysis provided in this volume. In all of these sections we draw not only on the theoretical and empirical analyses offered in this volume, but also on the broader transitional justice literature and empirical experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAmnesty in the Age of Human Rights Accountability
Subtitle of host publicationComparative and International Perspectives
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781139177153
ISBN (Print)9781107025004
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2012.


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