MacKenzie, Megan and Mohamed Sesay. (2012) No Amnesty from/for the International: The Production and Promotion of TRCs as an International Norm in Sierra Leone. International Studies Perspectives, doi: 10.1111/j.1528-3585.2012.00461.x
© 2012 International Studies Association
The literature on norms is dominated by debates over the definition of norms, discussion of the evolution of norms, norm diffusion, or norm implementation, and accounts of positive features associated with norms such as cooperation, mutual understanding. This paper argues that “the story” of international norms—or the dominant account of norms—is primarily a white, Western version that assumes that norms emerge from equal exchanges and relationship between states, denying the marked economic and political inequality between global actors and largely disregarding the intense contestations and controls associated with norms. In turn, this paper is an attempt to examine the tensions between so-called international norms and “local” norms and practices as well as the power dynamics and economic constraints that influence so-called global norms. Keeping in mind these tensions between the “story” of international norms and the practical constraints for local actors in the global south, this paper includes uses of the case study of Sierra Leone to examine what happens when “international” norms, such as those associated with transitional justice conflict with “local” norms. Specifically, the local norm of amnesty within Sierra Leone is studied in contrast to the international norm of truth and reconciliation commissions.