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

Yale Journal of International Affairs, Summer 2008

Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-17

26 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2008 Last revised: 11 Dec 2014

Jeremy Sarkin

University of South Africa

Date Written: October 13, 2008

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.

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

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1283737

Jeremy Sarkin (Contact Author)

University of South Africa ( email )

P.O. Box 392
UNISA
Pretoria, Gauteng 0003
South Africa

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