Mirroring Truths: How Liberal Democracies Are Challenging Their Foundational Narratives

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Long-established liberal democracies with histories of settler colonialism—from the United States and Canada to Australia and Scandinavia—are beginning to explore their histories of violence and dispossession. This, in many ways, is long overdue, but the desire to come to terms with past injustices should not obscure the challenges that still stand in the way of any reasonable effort to do so. We argue that transitional justice can be applied to colonial history in liberal democracies, but there are major conceptual and practical obstacles that need to be overcome if this is to happen in meaningful ways. We explore three of these obstacles here that are particularly significant: the doctrine of intertemporal law, the unequal power balance between the Global North and the Global South, and national identity. If these are to be overcome, it is important to tie historical to present injustices and to incorporate, beyond violations of physical rights, violations of economic and social rights that are particularly relevant for understanding continuities between past and ongoing violations. These rights are commonly neglected even by states that recognize a broad set of liberal rights and have the capacity to ensure that they are realized, and represent a promising avenue for pursuing a truly inclusive, equitable, and universal understanding of justice.

Idioma originalAnglès
Número d’article438
Nombre de pàgines12
RevistaSocial Sciences
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - d’ag. 2023


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