Tracking Down the Missing Financial Link in Transitional Justice

In: International Human Rights Law Review
Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky Sovereign Debt Expert, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development,

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This article argues that lenders providing financial assistance to authoritarian regimes should be held responsible for complicity if they knew or should have known that they would facilitate human rights abuses. Discussing the lenders’ role in a transitional justice context leads to a broadening of legal and institutional tools to channel this responsibility. This article starts by critically assessing the micro criteria traditionally used to understand the causal link between finance and human rights abuses, suggesting that a macro (i.e. holistic, interdisciplinary and casuistic) approach considering structures, processes and dynamics of sovereign financing should be applied when interpreting this link. It also explains how that traditional view is being challenged. A rational choice approach is taken to explain the most salient financial features of large-scale campaigns of gross human rights violations in order to understand the real relevance of funds in contexts of criminal regimes. The legal bases of responsibility for complicity are then discussed, separately presenting the arguments applied to private, multilateral and bilateral lenders. It also outlines how the missing financial link could be integrated into the domain of transitional justice, presenting, elaborating and assessing enforceability of concrete mechanisms to channel financial complicity in order to attain transitional goals. Finally, concluding remarks and challenges on the relationship between financial complicity and transitional justice are presented; and policy and economic considerations are made to better understand the real implications that incorporating the financial dimension into the transitional justice universe could have for a country.

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