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Rethinking Post-Truth Commissions: Empowering Local Capacities to Shape the Post-Truth Commission Discourse

Democratisation
Human Rights
Transitional States
Monica Aciru
University of Leuven
Monica Aciru
University of Leuven

Abstract

Truth commissions have become an important element of Transitional Justice. This follows the experiences in the 1980s and 1990s where they were used to address legacies of violence after transitions from authoritarianism and armed conflict. To date, over 40 truth commissions have been established worldwide. One of the key outputs of truth commissions is the recommendations contained in the report. Few of these recommendations have however been adequately followed up and implemented. This article explores this gap and argues that the truth commission landscape has evolved towards more top-down processes thereby limiting local involvement. This has contributed to the disengagement of the local actors in sustained activism in the truth commission and post-truth commission process. It addresses three issues regarding this observation; first, it examines the post-truth commission output and argues that truth commission recommendations are often not effectively implemented despite this being one of the most significant ways of consolidating its legacy. Second, it discusses the changing truth commission landscape which has resulted in less local ownership and declining interest in the post-truth commission process. Third, it explores how local capacities can be empowered to engage in truth commission debates on their own terms thereby enhancing the impact of the commissions.