Janice Dowson

Janice Dowson
2017-2018 Former Graduate Student Fellow

Janice is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Victoria. Her project contends with a question that is central to the study and practice of transitional justice: how do states undergoing transitions to democracy seek justice for past human rights violations in a manner that ensures past transgressions will never again occur?  Her dissertation argues that this goal may be better served by permanent institutional measures rather than spectacular and temporary interventions.  

Janice’s research focuses on South Africa’s democratic transition to assess how despite the overwhelming focus on the country’s much studied and much replicated Truth and Reconciliation Commission, South Africa’s approach to transitional justice and reconciliation depended on implementing the new Bill of Rights to secure social transformation and overcome apartheid era injustice. Specifically, she is analyzing how the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) provides a permanent apparatus for building a human rights culture, providing redress for human rights abuses and holding the government accountable for human rights abuses and for ensuring the Bill of Rights provisions are realised.

Janice recently completed her field research in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban, which allowed her access to library and archival research, document collection and to conduct interviews with Commissioners and staff at the South African Human Rights Commission in order to gain greater insights into how the SAHRC undertakes its work, and what challenges it faces in it attempt to promote human rights based social transformation.

She is looking forward to using her time as a CFGS fellow to complete the writing of her dissertation in a supportive, active, thought-provoking, and stimulating environment.