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Transitional Justice, Truth and Reconciliation: An Under-Explored Relationship

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Much of the literature on transitional justice suffers from a critical impact gap, which scholars are only now beginning to address. One particular manifestation of this aforementioned gap, and one which forms the particular focus of this article, is the frequently-cited yet empirically under-researched claim that "truth" fosters post-conflict reconciliation. Theoretically and empirically critiquing this argument, this article both questions the comprehensiveness of truth established through criminal trials and truth and reconciliation commissions (TRCs) and underscores the often overlooked problem of denial, thus raising fundamental questions about the reputed healing properties of truth in such contexts. Advocating the case for evidence-based transitional justice, it reflects upon empirical research on South Africa's TRC and the author's own work on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Affiliations: 1: School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, The Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast, BT7 1PA, UK


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