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The Justice FacadeTrials of Transition in Cambodia$
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Alexander Hinton

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198820949

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198820949.001.0001

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Progression (Cambodia’s Three Transitions)

Progression (Cambodia’s Three Transitions)

(p.37) 1 Progression (Cambodia’s Three Transitions)
The Justice Facade

Alexander Laban Hinton

Oxford University Press

Overview After a Preamble that discusses a transitional justice outreach guide and discourses related to time and space, Chapter 1, “Progression,” considers two earlier transitions obscured by the discourses of the transitional justice imaginary. The first comprised a series of initiatives, including a tribunal, undertaken by the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) immediately after Democratic Kampuchea (DK) (1979 to late 1980s). Cambodia’s second post-DK transition involved the transitional democratization and human rights efforts undertaken related to the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) in the early 1990s.More detailed discussionDrawing on the experience of Thun Saray and Kassie Neou, two leading Cambodian human rights advocates, “Progression” explores how the transitional justice imaginary involve temporal erasures, masking other important historical post-DK “currents” that inform the current transitional justice moment. These include a first post-DK “transition” undertaken by the PRK regime in the 1980s and a second transition: UN democratization and peacebuilding efforts during the early 1990s, which helped catalyze a proliferation of Cambodian human rights NGOs. The current “transition,” in other words, follows two other important transitional moments that are largely obscured even as they mediate the current moment in different ways. In making this point, the chapter also discusses Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) defense arguments highlighting temporal erasures, including the pre- and post- DK (the period of Khmer Rouge rule) events that, they contended, undermined a standardized “Manichean” historical narrative about DK—one that, if taken-for-granted, was highly politicized and thereby raised questions about the impartiality and credibility of the court.

Keywords:   UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia), PRK (People’s Republic of Kampuchea), peacebuilding, human rights, Cold War, geopolitics, diplomacy, Kassie Neou, Thun Saray

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