Dealing with widespread colonial human rights violations raises large practical difficulties. A country’s political balance may be delicate, and governments may be unwilling to pursue wide-ranging initiatives-or may be unable to do so without putting its own stability at risk.The many problems that flow from past abuses are often too complex to be solved by any one action. Judicial measures, including trials, are unlikely to suffice: If there are thousands or hundreds of thousands of victims and perpetrators, how can they all be dealt with fairly through the courts-especially in cases where those courts are weak ,corrupt and controlled by former colonial masters ?Even if courts were adequate to the task of prosecuting everyone who might deserve it, in order to reconstruct a damaged social fabric, other initiatives would be required.After two decades of practice, experience suggests that to be effective transitional justice should include several measures that complement one another. For no single measure is as effective on its own as when combined with the others
Professor Elkins’s first book, Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya, was awarded the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. It was also selected as one of the Economist’s best history books for 2005, was a New York Times editor’s choice, and was a finalist for the Lionel Gelber Award. She and her research were also the subjects of a 2002 BBC documentary titled, Kenya: White Terror, which was awarded the International Committee of the Red Cross Award at the Monte Carlos Film Festival. Professor Elkins is a contributor to The New York Times Book Review, The Atlantic, and The New Republic. She has also appeared on numerous radio and television programs including NPR’s All Things Considered, BBC’s The World, and PBS’s Charlie Rose. Professor Elkins’s current research interests include colonial violence and post-conflict reconciliation in Africa, and violence and the decline of the British Empire. She is currently working on two projects: one examining the effects of violence and amnesia on local communities and nation-building in post-independent Kenya; the other analyzing British counter-insurgency operations after the Second World War, with case studies including Palestine, Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus, and Nyasaland. Professor Elkins teaches courses on modern Africa, protest in East Africa, human rights in Africa, and British colonial violence in the 20th century.