The Truth About Truth Commissions: Why They Do Not Function Optimally in Post-Conflict Societies
86 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2013 Last revised: 20 May 2015
Date Written: August 13, 2013
Using insights from the legal transplant literature to analyze the transplanting of truth commissions, this paper finds that truth commissions will face more challenges carrying out their mandates in post-conflict versus post authoritarian societies. In post-conflict societies, the combination of weak institutions to support a truth-telling process, combined with large numbers of victims and perpetrators will tend to overwhelm truth commissions. These factors concomitant with lower levels of moral consensus surrounding mass violence interact to make truth commissions function less optimally in post-conflict contexts. Truth commissions can be more successful carrying out institutional mandates in post-conflict contexts when combined with a court because of mutually-reinforcing effects. It concludes that, much more experimentation needs to be done in order to formulate effective and contextually appropriate responses to mass violence instead of the current “one-size-fits-all” approach in transitional justice.
Keywords: alternative dispute resolution, comparative law, human rights, international law, international institutions
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