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Hybrid TRCs and national reconciliation in Sierra Leone and Peru

Friedman, Rebekka (2012) Hybrid TRCs and national reconciliation in Sierra Leone and Peru. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis examines the contribution of Truth Commissions (TCs) to national reconciliation and peace-building in post-conflict societies, via the case studies of Sierra Leone and Peru. While TCs have become a rapidly proliferating form of transitional justice, the thesis argues that there is still insufficient understanding of the functions and impact of TCs and the contexts within which they are established. In contrast to earlier Cold War TCs, which were established during regime transitions from authoritarian rule to democracy, recent hybrid Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRCs), as in Sierra Leone, East Timor, and Peru, were established in contexts of protracted social conflict and civil war. Whereas earlier Cold War TCs, were set up by domestic civil society as instruments of human rights against strong states, hybrid TRCs focused on democratization and peace-building in fragile states and often with global support. This thesis offers a typology of TCs, distinguishing participatory TRCs and didactic TCs from recent hybrid TRCs. It that hybrid TRCs integrate rigorous fact-finding and public testimony, focusing their work on the civic sphere. The thesis offers a theoretical conception of national reconciliation. Utilizing extensive qualitative research carried out in Sierra Leone and Peru, the thesis argues that hybrid TRCs in Sierra Leone and Peru had an important normative and discursive impact on procedural reconciliation. In both contexts, hybrid TRCs mobilized civil society, raised awareness, and altered norms of engagement. At the same time, the thesis argues that mechanisms of transitional justice are endogenous to their contexts. The nature of the conflicts, particularly a long backdrop of political and economic marginalization, the legacies of violence in remote areas, and the lack of implementation of hybrid TRCs’ recommendations, undermined their contributions. The thesis concludes that durable reconciliation requires a deeper level of public commitment and social justice. It raises implications for future research and practice, specifically the risk of institutional overstretch in current holistic transitional justice and the importance of a long-term transformative approach.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Rebekka Clara Friedman
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Brown, Chris and Ainley, Kirsten

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