The ICTY, truth and reconciliation: a meta reconceptualization

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Exploring the question of whether ICTY’s work has contributed to inter-ethnic reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia, this inter-disciplinary chapter – which is both conceptual and empirical – adopts a novel perspective by extending the purview beyond factual truths. Instead it focuses on what it terms meta-normative truths. These higher-level truths are not about who did what to whom, but about human suffering and the (im)morality of particular behaviours and conduct in war. Precisely because they transcend ethnic belonging, these truths provide a stronger basis for building reconciliation than frequently-contentious factual truths. Developing this argument and drawing on Goldin’s work on meta-affect, the chapter further maintains that meta-normative truths have the greatest potential to alter localized meta-affective contexts that fuel denial, support for convicted war criminals and the persistence of competing ethnic narratives. Although the Tribunal has now completed its mandate, it can indirectly contribute to inter-ethnic reconciliation – as part of its long-term legacy – if the meta-normative truths implicit in its work are given more attention and actively utilized in reconciliation efforts on the ground.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLegacies of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
Subtitle of host publicationA Multidisciplinary Account
EditorsCarsten Stahn, Carmel Agius, Serge Brammertz, Colleen Rohan
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780198862956
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2020


  • inter-ethnic reconciliation
  • meta-normative truth
  • contentious factual truth
  • ethnic narrative
  • meta-affective context


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