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The Limits of Punishment: Transitional Justice and Violent Extremism

By Ronald Slye, Professor at Seattle University School of Law and Mark Freeman, founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Integrated Transitions (IFIT).


This paper draws upon the empirical evidence of three country case studies -- Nigeria (Boko Haram), Iraq (IS/Daesh), and Somalia (Al Shabaab) -- to provide a framework to assist national policymakers and their international partners in developing alternative, and more effective, responses to individuals accused of association with violent extremist groups. It offers a pragmatic framework for understanding how well-tailored transitional justice can contribute to more viable transitions away from conflict in settings confronted by such groups. This paper is part of a series commissioned by the Institute For Integrated Transitions ( and the Centre for Policy Research at the United Nations University ( The case studies and other related publications may be found at the websites of both of these sponsoring organizations. The project of which this paper is a part gave rise to three additional case studies on negotiations with violent extremist groups: Uganda and the LRA; Libya and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group; and Afghanistan and the Taliban. These latter case studies, combined with this paper and the research supporting it, resulted in the paper, "Transitional Justice and Violent Extremism - An Original Policy Framework," written by Ronald C. Slye, and also found here on SSRN and on the website of the Institute For Integrated Transitions.

Keywords: countering violent extremism, transitional justice, conflict resolution, amnesty, truth commissions, reparations, counter-terrorism.

Suggested Citation:

Slye, Ronald C., The Limits of Punishment: Transitional Justice and Violent Extremism (2018). ISBN: 978-92-808-9042-6, Available at SSRN:


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