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Achieving Reconciliation in Divided Societies: Comparing the Approaches in Timor-Leste, South Africa and Rwanda


Jeremy Sarkin


University of South Africa

October 13, 2008

Yale Journal of International Affairs, Summer 2008
Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-17

Abstract:     
This article traces the surge in interest regarding reconciliation as a transitional justice mechanism in recent decades, including the policy motivations behind this interest. It then trains a critical eye upon the most popular reconciliation instruments, including truth commissions, in part by examining the efforts of South Africa, Rwanda, and East Timor. This comparative analysis reveals that, while the goals of reconciliation programs are indeed laudable, the specific policies and instrumentalities by which these goals are achieved remains case specific. Post-conflict states should thus refrain from adopting truth commission templates and instead critically examine their own circumstances - such as history and economic outlook - before embarking upon a particular reconciliation scheme.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 26

Keywords: international humanitariam law, international human rights law, truth commissions, Timor-Leste, South Africa, Rwanda, reconciliation, transitional justice, international law

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Date posted: October 15, 2008 ; Last revised: November 4, 2008

Suggested Citation

Sarkin, Jeremy, Achieving Reconciliation in Divided Societies: Comparing the Approaches in Timor-Leste, South Africa and Rwanda (October 13, 2008). Yale Journal of International Affairs, Summer 2008; Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-17. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1283737

Contact Information

Jeremy Sarkin (Contact Author)
University of South Africa ( email )
South Africa
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