PUBLISHED:June 06, 2024

Revkin's research team wins grant to study transitional justice and long-term national outcomes


The team will conduct a comparative study of public attitudes toward transitional justice institutions and long-term outcomes across Iraq, Ukraine, and Colombia.

Associate Professor of Law and Political Science Mara Revkin Associate Professor of Law and Political Science Mara Revkin

A research team that includes Associate Professor of Law and Political Science Mara Revkin has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to study how the design of transitional justice institutions in countries affected by conflict and/or authoritarianism impacts public opinion and shapes long-term national outcomes such as regime type and conflict recurrence.

The three-year study, "Legitimacy and Efficacy of Transitional Justice Institutions in Comparative Perspective,” will be funded by a $612,000 grant from the NSF's Law & Science Division. Revkin will be joined by co-investigators Roya Talibova, assistant professor of political science at Vanderbilt University, and Gabriella Levy, a postdoctoral research associate at Brown University who received her MA and PhD in political science from Duke University.

The team will collect comparable survey measures across Iraq, Ukraine, and Colombia that vary along several theoretically relevant dimensions and build a cross-national dataset. They will then develop and test a novel theory about how public attitudes mediate the relationship between transitional justice institutions and long-term outcomes.

The study will shed light on what forms of transitional justice effectively promote peace, democracy, justice, and reconciliation, as well as provide insights into how countries’ unique histories may shape the impact of transitional justice there. It will help to meet what Revkin calls an urgent need for more empirical research to help develop evidence-based policies in transitional justice, given its widespread use in post-conflict and post-authoritarian countries as well as democracies around the world. 

In April Revkin co-authored a feature article in The Yale Law Journal identifying a major problem in the field: some of the most well-known transitional justice mechanisms, including those employed in South Africa, Rwanda, and Cambodia, failed to achieve their objectives of peace-building and reconciliation – and have even retraumatized the population.

Revkin, who teaches Property and Transitional Justice, uses qualitative and quantitative empirical methods in her work and has conducted field research in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and South Sudan. She has worked with and advised United Nations agencies and other humanitarian organizations on the design of evidence-based programs and policies that aim to strengthen rule of law and the protection of human rights, support peaceful reconciliation after conflict, and mitigate the root causes of political violence and extremism.

In February Revkin and a separate research team were awarded a £1.5 million grant from the NSF and the UK Economic and Social Research Council to develop an evidence-based law and policy framework to reduce civilian harm in conflict-affected areas, particularly Iraq and Gaza.