Implementing Truth and Reconciliation: Comparative Lessons for the Republic of Korea

Tara J. Melish

SUNY Buffalo Law School


Buffalo Human Rights Law Review, Vol. 19, 2012
SUNY Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-041

This Article substantively introduces a special symposium issue on "Implementing Truth and Reconciliation: Comparative Lessons for Korea." Inspired by the Dec. 2010 release of the official report and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Republic of Korea (TRCK), the special issue gathers comparative national and cross-national lessons from four nations -- South Korea, South Africa, Cambodia, and Peru -- on the factors that contribute to or hinder the effective implementation of truth commission recommendations and other efforts aimed at achieving national, community, and individual-level reconciliation. Such lessons are offered in the hope of assisting victim groups and other advocacy communities in South Korea as they engage in the long, complex, and always difficult process of ensuring the meaningful and effective implementation of the TRCK's recommendations for reform, follow-up, and reparation on the ground.

The Article introduces the TRCK, the political context for its creation, design, and extensive mandate, as well as the substance and complexity of its multiple policy recommendations. It then summarizes the special issue's substantive contributions, collecting and synthesizing the comparative lessons from each. The major global lessons discerned across the contributions include the priority need for active civil society engagement in the implementation process, the creation of permanent follow-up and orchestration bodies, the pursuit of truth as a dynamic and ongoing project, data independence and accessibility, and, finally, the use of measurable indicators for holding government and other key stakeholders to account.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 65

Keywords: transitional justice, truth commissions, comparative lessons, Korea, Peru, Cambodia, South Africa, civil society, human rights, institutional reform

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Date posted: April 20, 2013 ; Last revised: May 14, 2013

Suggested Citation

Melish, Tara J., Implementing Truth and Reconciliation: Comparative Lessons for the Republic of Korea (2012). Buffalo Human Rights Law Review, Vol. 19, 2012; SUNY Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-041. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2253402

Contact Information

Tara J. Melish (Contact Author)
SUNY Buffalo Law School ( email )
School of Law
525 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States
(716) 645-2257 (Phone)

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