Why Do States Commission the Truth? Political Considerations in the Establishment of African Truth and Reconciliation Commissions

Human Rights Review 10 (3):373-391 (2009)

Abstract
Although the use of truth and reconciliation commissions (TRCs) has grown considerably over the last 3 decades, there is still much that we do not know concerning the choice and the structuring of TRCs. While the literature has focused primarily on the effects of TRCs, we examine the domestic and the international factors influencing the choice of a commission in sub-Saharan Africa from 1974 to 2003 using pooled cross-sectional time series. We find that states which adopted a TRC prior to South Africa were generally repressive centralized regimes which used the truth commission as political cover. However, since South Africa’s TRC, democratizing states have been more likely to adopt a truth commission as a form of transitional justice
Keywords Truth and reconciliation commissions  South Africa TRC  Transitional justice  Democratization
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DOI 10.1007/s12142-009-0122-6
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