The How Things Work project stems from the dearth of understanding about how to assess transitional justice interventions.

One of the reasons why assessments have proven so difficult is the lack of understanding about how the interventions themselves may be thought to work. Prior to any effort to measure the effectiveness of a mechanism, it is necessary to understand how, in principle, the mechanism can be thought to have any effects at all.

Project Aims

Surprisingly, almost no attention has been paid to the articulation of accounts of precisely how transitional justice interventions can have the effects often attributed to them.

This project—involving a small group of social scientists and transitional justice practitioners—is designed to help close this gap. Its intended goal is to contribute to our understanding of:

  • how transitional justice interventions work
  • how they achieve any effects
  • the factors on which their efficacy depends.

Project Findings

The participants met several times throughout 2008 and 2009 to discuss their draft papers and share their findings. A book of these papers will be published in 2013.