Designing Emotional and Psychological Support into Truth and Reconciliation Commissions

20 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2015 Last revised: 7 Jan 2016

See all articles by Verlyn Francis

Verlyn Francis

Isiko Dispute Resolution Consultants Inc.; York University - Osgoode Hall Law School; Centennial College

Date Written: September 20, 2015


Truth and reconciliation commissions are a dispute resolution process used to attempt reconciliation of disputants after internal conflicts and civil wars. A large component of this transitional justice process involves truth-telling by perpetrators and victims. Using the example of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, this article argues that successful reconciliation depends on the design of the process. It is important for the designers of conflict resolution process to balance individual and institutional interests while ensuring all stakeholders are at the design table. Since truth-telling in these circumstances usually involves recalling and testifying about traumatic events, it is important to design culturally appropriate emotional and psychological support into the truth and reconciliation process to prevent the re-victimization of the victims.

Keywords: dispute resolution, conflict resolution, process design, transitional justice, truth and reconciliation, reconciliation, psychology, trauma, emotional and psychological support, victim, perpetrator

JEL Classification: J52, D74, D81, D63, N40

Suggested Citation

Francis, Verlyn, Designing Emotional and Psychological Support into Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (September 20, 2015). Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper No. 5/2016, Available at SSRN: or

Verlyn Francis (Contact Author)

Isiko Dispute Resolution Consultants Inc. ( email )

393 University Avenue
Suite 2000
Toronto, ON M5G 1E6
416-363-7708 (Phone)


York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

Centennial College ( email )

941 Progress Ave
Toronto, Ontario ON M1K 5E9
416-363-7708 (Phone)


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