Rebecca Gidley

Rebecca Gidley

PhD Candidate
Pacific and Asian History


BSc/BA (Hons) - University of Queensland
Contact details
Room: 4137
Building: HC Coombs Building

Thesis Topic

Illiberal Transitional Justice: The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Supervisory Panel: Professor Robert Cribb, Dr Tyrell Haberkorn, Dr Ross Tapsell

Thesis Research

My research examines how and why the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), also known as the Khmer Rouge tribunal, was established. The ECCC was created by an agreement between the Cambodian government and the United Nations with a mandate to put Khmer Rouge leaders on trial for crimes committed during their 1970s regime. In this thesis I examine how the Khmer Rouge past was dealt with in the 1980s, the conduct of the six years of negotiations between the Cambodian government and the United Nations, and the operation of the ECCC since its creation. In analysing the ECCC I argue that the transitional justice literature is based on assumptions about liberal democracy that do not apply to Cambodia. Instead, I suggest that the ECCC is an archetypal case of illiberal transitional justice. The ECCC, as a case of illiberal transitional justice, sits on the boundary between legitimacy and illegitimacy. The court maintained its legitimacy through the ongoing UN involvement and adherence to the language of procedure, but this legitimacy was challenged by the political interference of the Cambodian government in the court’s operation. Illiberal transitional justice is a different conception of what the rules are, how important they are, and when they are important. In this thesis I challenge existing assumptions and analyses of transitional justice to create a more nuanced understanding of how and why transitional justice mechanisms are employed.

Research Interests

Cambodia, genocide, transitional justice, Bokor National Park, historical narratives, Southeast Asia.


Rebecca Gidley, “Betrayal and Hypocrisy: The United Nations, Cambodia, and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal”, in Deborah Mayersen (ed.), The United Nations and Genocide (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 54-76.

Rebecca Gidley, "The High Cost of Criticism," New Mandala,, 19 December 2016.

Rebecca Gidley, “Silences at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal,” School of Culture, History and Language News,, September 2016.

Recent Conference Presentations

“Political Construction of Collective Memory in Cambodia” - War, Violence, and Memory: Remembrance, Representation, and Commemoration of Crimes against Humanity in Asia, Yonsei University (October 2016)

“Narrative Continuity at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal” – Asian Studies Association of Australia 2016 Conference, Australian National University (July 2016)

“Manipulating the Narrative at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal” - Transitional Justice: The Role of Historical Narrative in Times of Transitions, Heidelberg University (May 2015)

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