Truth v. Justice: The Morality of Truth Commissions

Truth v. Justice: The Morality of Truth Commissions

by Robert I. Rotberg
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691050716

ISBN-13: 9780691050713

Pub. Date: 08/14/2000

Publisher: Princeton University Press

The truth commission is an increasingly common fixture of newly democratic states with repressive or strife-ridden pasts. From South Africa to Haiti, truth commissions are at work with varying degrees of support and success. To many, they are the best--or only--way to achieve a full accounting of crimes committed against fellow citizens and to prevent future conflict.…  See more details below

Overview

The truth commission is an increasingly common fixture of newly democratic states with repressive or strife-ridden pasts. From South Africa to Haiti, truth commissions are at work with varying degrees of support and success. To many, they are the best--or only--way to achieve a full accounting of crimes committed against fellow citizens and to prevent future conflict. Others question whether a restorative justice that sets the guilty free, that cleanses society by words alone, can deter future abuses and allow victims and their families to heal. Here, leading philosophers, lawyers, social scientists, and activists representing several perspectives look at the process of truth commissioning in general and in post-apartheid South Africa. They ask whether the truth commission, as a method of seeking justice after conflict, is fair, moral, and effective in bringing about reconciliation.

The authors weigh the virtues and failings of truth commissions, especially the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in their attempt to provide restorative rather than retributive justice. They examine, among other issues, the use of reparations as social policy and the granting of amnesty in exchange for testimony. Most of the contributors praise South Africa's decision to trade due process for the kinds of truth that permit closure. But they are skeptical that such revelations produce reconciliation, particularly in societies that remain divided after a compromise peace with no single victor, as in El Salvador. Ultimately, though, they find the truth commission to be a worthy if imperfect instrument for societies seeking to say "never again" with confidence. At a time when truth commissions have been proposed for Bosnia, Kosovo, Cyprus, East Timor, Cambodia, Nigeria, Palestine, and elsewhere, the authors' conclusion that restorative justice provides positive gains could not be more important.

In addition to the editors, the contributors are Amy Gutmann, Rajeev Bhargava, Elizabeth Kiss, David A. Crocker, André du Toit, Alex Boraine, Dumisa Ntsebeza, Lisa Kois, Ronald C. Slye, Kent Greenawalt, Sanford Levinson, Martha Minow, Charles S. Maier, Charles Villa-Vicencio, and Wilhelm Verwoerd.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691050713
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
08/14/2000
Series:
University Center for Human Values Series
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
6.42(w) x 9.48(h) x 0.96(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
ITruth Commissions and the Provision of Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation3
IIThe Moral Foundations of Truth Commissions22
IIIRestoring Decency to Barbaric Societies45
IVMoral Ambition Within and Beyond Political Constraints: Reflections on Restorative Justice68
VTruth Commissions, Transitional Justice, and Civil Society99
VIThe Moral Foundations of the South African TRC: Truth as Acknowledgment and Justice as Recognition141
VIIThe Uses of Truth Commissions: Lessons for the World158
IXAmnesty, Truth, and Reconciliation: Reflections on the South African Amnesty Process170
XAmnesty's Justice189
XITrials, Commissions, and Investigating Committees: The Elusive Search for Norms of Due Process211
XIIThe Hope for Healing: What Can Truth Commissions Do?235
XIIIDoing History, Doing Justice: The Narrative of the Historian and of the Truth Commission261
XIVConstructing a Report: Writing Up the "Truth"279
The Contributors295
Index299

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