The justice facade: Trials of transition in Cambodia

Research output: Book/ReportBook

11 Scopus citations


Is there a point to international justice? This book explores this question in Cambodia, where Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge revolutionaries committed genocide and crimes against humanity in an attempt to create a pure socialist regime (1975-1979). Due to geopolitics, it was only in 2006 that a UN-backed hybrid tribunal, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (“Khmer Rouge Tribunal”), commenced operation, one of a growing number of post-Cold War transitional justice interventions. The Justice Facade argues that there is a point to such tribunals, but it is masked by a set of utopian human rights and democratization ideals. Instead of projecting this transitional justice imaginary onto post-conflict peacebuilding efforts, we need to step behind the justice facade to examine what tribunals mean in terms of everyday life and practices-such as the Buddhist beliefs and ritual interactions with the spirits of the dead that are critical to Cambodian victims and survivors. In making this argument, The Justice Facade focuses on civil society outreach efforts to “translate” the court in terms meaningful to Cambodians, the majority of whom are rural villagers, as well as the experience of Cambodian civil parties who testified. This ground-breaking study of transitional justice and demonstration of the importance of examining “justice in translation” is of critical importance not just to those working in the field of transitional justice and law, but in related fields such as development, human rights, anthropology, and peacebuilding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages284
ISBN (Electronic)9780198820949
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


  • Anthropology
  • Buddhism
  • Culture
  • Ethnography
  • Genocide
  • Globalization/localization
  • Human rights
  • International/global justice
  • Khmer rouge tribunal/extraordinary chambers in the courts of cambodia
  • Law and society
  • Memory
  • NGOs/civil society
  • Peacebuilding
  • Southeast asia
  • Transitional justice
  • Uncle San and Aunty Yan
  • Victim participation and outreach

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