Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Finding Shame in Truth: The Importance of Public Engagement in Truth Commissions

Julie M. Mazzei
Finding Shame in Truth: The Importance of Public Engagement in Truth Commissions

Human Rights Quarterly - Volume 33, Number 2, May 2011, pp. 431-452.


Abstract:
Truth commissions are increasingly used as a transitional justice device in an attempt to move conflict-ridden societies to rights-based periods of stability. Using the case of El Salvador, this article finds that in cases where a truth commission does not directly engage public discourse, it cannot challenge the scripts that dominated the conflict period and therefore defined political actors, for instance as "insurgent" or "national security guarantor." In such cases, the truth commission may publicize "the facts" of the conflict period, but cannot facilitate transition to a new discourse that allows for true reconciliation and participatory governance.

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