Truth commissions, usually described as a softer transitional justice alternative to trials, gained traction in academic circles following the establishment of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Though they are praised for their value in societal reconciliation and widely recognized for their flexibility; little is understood of their causal factors or requirements. This Article turns to this hole in the research and examines the effects of one potential causal variable, the balance of power between the warring parties. Through an in-depth examination of four case studies, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, and East Timor, this Article finds that truth commissions are more likely to be implemented following conflicts that have ended without a clear and absolute winner. The analysis suggests two things: first, scholars should shift from the ends-based analysis of what works best to the means-based analysis of what will be possible; and second, a quest for truth may first require a need for compromise.
Power and Cooperation: Understanding the Road towards a Truth Commission,
Buff. Hum. Rts. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.buffalo.edu/bhrlr/vol15/iss1/6