Human rights violations leave deep scars on people, societies, and nations. Human rights advocates believe that resolving the violence of the past is a necessary condition for a peaceful future and have pushed for truth commissions as part of the healing process since the early 1990s. But how can nations ensure that these commissions are the best path to reconciliation?
The Politics of Acknowledgement develops a theoretical framework of acknowledgement with which to explain and assess how instruments of transitional justice such as truth and reconciliation commissions should operate. Rather than applying this framework to successful tribunals, Joanna Quinn uses it to evaluate the difficulties encountered and the ultimate failure of truth commissions in two countries – Uganda and Haiti. Analysis of these commissions reveals that if reconciliation is to be achieved, acknowledgement of past violence and harm – by both victims and perpetrators – must come before goals such as forgiveness, social trust, civic engagement, and social cohesion.
This timely examination of poorly understood truth commissions in Uganda and Haiti illuminates the challenges that all truth commissions face in the transition from violence to peace.
The Politics of Acknowledgement will be of interest to students and scholars of post-conflict reconstruction, memory, justice, and democracy and to activists, policy makers, and general readers who want a deeper understanding of transitional justice policy.
This highly original study not only provides a fascinating analysis of the lesser-known truth commissions in Haiti and Uganda but also sheds light on the complex factors that affect the success or failure of truth commissions in fostering acknowledgement and furthering democratic change. This book should be widely read by those interested in truth commissions, transitional justice, and the politics of acknowledgement.
Joanna R. Quinn is an assistant professor of political science and director of the Centre for Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction at the University of Western Ontario.
Part 1: Theoretical Model
2 The Politics of Acknowledgement
3 Truth Commissions
4 The Truth Commissions of Uganda and Haiti
Part 2: Analysis: Parallels between the Ugandan and Haitian Cases
5 Political Will
6 Institutional Constraints
7 Whither Acknowledgement?
8 Social Underpinnings
9 Acknowledgement: A New Lens for Evaluation
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