the costs of justice


What motivates a new regime to pursue justice measures against previous human rights abusers, from condemnations to criminal prosecutions? What deters them?

In his new book, The Costs of Justice, Brian Grodsky (cv) draws on 250 elite interviews and media analyses from four post-communist countries to argue that transitional justice is a function of the new leadership’s capacity to provide goods and services expected by constituents.

“New leaders who come to power have to balance the desire for justice that they may have with the public’s perceptions of [their] efficacy,” Grodsky argues. In other words, politicians responsible for making sure electricity stays on, schools remain open, and the employment rate is stable “pursue justice to the degree to which they think they can get away with pursuing justice.”

This book speaks to students, scholars, human rights practitioners, activists and policymakers, helping them to understand, from a domestic perspective, how political leaders make important decisions impacting the international community.


3 Responses to “the costs of justice”

  1. 1 Ben
    January 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    I agree that “justice” is determined by the prevailing styles and standards of living in a region, but can justice truly be applied by outside influences, especially foreign political groups?

    What about places like Somalia, where ‘justice’ is subject to the local warlord and his henchmen? In such an environment, it is in the interest of the warlord to deny resources to competing factions, while caching his own resources. Also regarding Somalia, why do Europe and the United States continue to tolerate piracy and hijacking, when kidnapping is considered one of the ‘highest’ crimes according to the FBI, in terms of severity?

  2. 2 Stephanie
    January 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Fascinating topic. Restorative justice is an area that of high interest to me. I was aware of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which sounded reasonably successful (I was working on a research project on apology, and did not interview primary sources as Dr. Grodsky did), as well as some U.S. domestic efforts mentioned here:


    Thanks for a chance to read up on other efforts in the world within the context of the transition of leadership. This sounds like a good read (beyond class assignment) for the faculty book club.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

UMBC’s Faculty Experts Vlog


Latest TalkingHeads on Twitter


%d bloggers like this: