Lauren Balasco, Ph.D.

Stockton University

Country: United States (New Jersey)

Research Interests

Human Rights

Latin American And Caribbean Politics

International Law & Organization

Conflict Processes & War

Comparative Democratization

Specific Areas of Interest

Transitional Justice

Transformative Justice

Post-Conflict Transition

Human Rights Norms

International Justice

Human Security

Challenges To Democracy

Latin American Politics

Countries of Interest






Journal Articles:

(2019) Required Consultation or Provoking Confrontation? The Use of the Referendum in Peace Agreements, Representation

Tags: Conflict Processes & War, Latin American And Caribbean Politics, Representation and Electoral Systems

This article challenges the unreflexive use of post-agreement referendums during peace processes. Post-agreement referendums are too broad in scope and generate polarising dynamics that can reopen the wounds that they seek to heal. Their apparent simplicity usually masks an extensive set of policy choices that voters must decide upon in a high stakes vote. This complexity not only makes it difficult for voters to understand the issues at hand, but it also creates opportunities for confrontation rather than reconciliation. Moreover, when a significant modicum of peace has been achieved, after years of violent conflict, voters approach the referendum with different frames of mind than when violence is still prevalent. As a result, they become risk averse. As prospect theory would predict, when voters see themselves in the ‘domain of gains’, they tend to have a strong preference for the status quo, making approval of post-agreement referendums more difficult. The problem for democratic representation is compounded when legislatures step in to salvage the agreements in the face of voters’ rejection. Using the cases of Guatemala and Colombia, we conclude that thoughtful, open, inclusive, and deliberative legislative action is better than referendums to ratify peace agreements.

(2018) Locating Transformative Justice: Prism or Schism in Transitional Justice? (Review Essay), International Journal of Transitional Justice

Is transformative justice a new moment in the transitional justice canon, a prism through which we can assess transitional justice practice in a new light? Or is it a wholesale new approach to achieving justice for contemporary violations rooted in historical oppression, a schism within transitional justice? Transformative justice is considered the ‘fourth generation’1 of transitional justice scholarship, re-envisioning the goals of transitional justice mechanisms to account for long-term structural injustices that remain after the collapse of authoritarianism or end of civil conflict. The substantial body of work on transformative justice is also an effort to think about new ways communities study, advocate for and secure justice beyond the confines of transitional justice measures’ mandates and their officially sanctioned time periods. The three books under review provide a foundation for exploring the place of transformative justice in relation to the transitional justice field.

(2017) Reparative development: re-conceptualising reparations in transitional justice processes, Conflict Security and Development

Tags: Latin American And Caribbean Politics, Human Rights, International Law & Organization

Reparations are increasingly seen as potential avenues to address the socioeconomic structural injustices that have affected victims during conflict or authoritarian rule. Scholars, however, have identified serious limitations in these policies, emanating from faulty design, political reluctance, financial limitations and uneven implementation. This article proposes a reconceptualisation of reparation policies by embedding them in a framework of reparative development. A theory of reparative development is outlined by discussing how principles emanating from key rulings of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights can be articulated to provide a conceptual link between transitional justice and development. This article argues that restitution should consider not only past damages but also lost life opportunities. Reparations should be both individual- and community-based, taking into account the supplemental policy actions required to make them both effective and sensitive to existing human insecurities. Finally, they need to involve local and grassroots organisations in their implementation.

(2016) The double transition of transitional justice in Peru: Confronting the appeal of iron-fist policies, International Journal of Human Rights

Tags: Human Rights, Latin American And Caribbean Politics, Political Participation

Peru is facing a crisis of citizen insecurity that stems in part from the rule of law deficits connected to judicial problems and corruption that transitional justice mechanisms sought to remedy but failed to accomplish. This insecurity has fuelled the appeal of Keiko Fujimori, daughter and political heir of the authoritarian regime that ruled Peru in the 1990s, who offers iron-fist policies to defeat crime. To understand how unresolved human security concerns – such as citizen security – are potentially threatening to the consolidation of transitional justice policies, transitional justice needs to be conceptualised as encompassing two related but distinct transitions. While the first phase addresses the injustices from the immediate aftermath of a conflict or fall of an authoritarian regime, the second transition must address the insecurities that can potentially threaten any progress the state and society have made towards establishing democracy and rule of law. It is argued here that the failure to address these insecurities risks the successful completion of the second transition in Peru, and can potentially cause authoritarian reversals by enhancing the appeal of politicians that peddle law-and-order policies to address them.

(2016) The Fearful Citizen: Citizen Insecurity and Support for Democracy in Latin America, Revista Latinoamericana de Opinión Pública

Tags: Comparative Democratization, Political Participation, Crime Politics

W/ Julio F. Carrión

(2013) The Transitions of Transitional Justice: Mapping the Waves From Promise to Practice, Journal of Human Rights

Tags: Conflict Processes & War, Development, Human Rights

Transitional justice is facing a kind of inverted “paradox of success”: The less effective its mechanisms seem to be in their efforts to build democracy and peace, the more we are demanding from them. This article chronicles the intellectual evolution of the field and its current efforts to address what are perceived to be the conceptual shortcomings of the approach. In doing so, it shows that to overcome its perceived limitations, and measure more precisely the effectiveness of its mechanisms, scholars are looking outside the paradigm to address how transitional justice may be more successful and lasting in repairing and restoring states and societies wrought with violence and human rights abuses. In mapping out the “transitions” of transitional justice and contemporary efforts to move the field forward, I argue that to better understand its effectiveness, we need to examine its impact on not only the short-term tensions of addressing victims’ claims but also on the long-term goals of creating conditions that secure the peace and prosperity of peoples.

(2013) The International Criminal Court as a Human Security Agent, PRAXIS The Fletcher Journal of Human Security

Tags: International Law & Organization, Human Rights

The Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court (ICC) are considered successful examples of the “human security agenda,” endorsed by both states and non-states alike. While the ICC was no doubt born from the human security community, its advancement of the human security agenda requires both an embrace of this role and an institutional assessment of the ways in which it is carried out by the ICC’s actions. To be an effective agent of human security, the ICC’s involvement in a country’s conflict in order to pursue justice cannot be decoupled from its responsibility to promote the securities of people through the establishment of rule of law. As such, the ICC’s work needs to be informed by how well it manages these trade-offs while performing as an agent of human security. This paper discusses the Court’s precarious role as a human security agent and offers a preliminary assessment of its work in fostering human security. While the Court must negotiate political realities, investigate ongoing human rights abuses around the world, and do both on a limited budget and resources, it is ultimately about the experience of the participants (alleged perpetrators, witnesses, and victims) engaged in its process that will determine theirs’ and others’ perceptions of the Court’s legitimacy–and that will enable its success to establish justice. Hence, in order to successfully complete its goal of dispensing justice, the ICC must also embrace its role as a human security agent–applying the protection and empowerment dimensions of human security to the people who participate throughout its processes. To do so, the Court must ensure that its mission of achieving justice is done without diminishing the security of the very people it seeks to represent. To dismiss such responsibilities as outside its purview will not only compromise the very justice is seeks to sustain, but also diminish its claims to be an apolitical actor within the international system.