ICTJ Forum Series: Truth Commissions and Peace Mediation


Photo: The participants at the symposium, "Challenging the Conventional: Can Truth Commissions Effectively Strengthen Peace Processes?" held at the Greentree Estate, New York. November 12, 2013 (ICTJ)

Can truth commissions help secure a just peace following a violent conflict in which massive human rights abuses are committed? Can their inclusion in peace agreements guarantee that justice is not sacrificed for the sake of peace? Have our expectations exceeded what truth commissions can realistically deliver in the aftermath of devastating violence?

To explore these dilemmas and the intersection of truth-seeking and peace mediation, ICTJ recently partnered with the Kofi Annan Foundation for an unprecedented meeting of transitional justice experts and international peace mediators. The symposium, “Challenging the Conventional: Can Truth Commissions Effectively Strengthen Peace Processes?” aimed to examine how truth commissions can have an effective chance to achieve their goals in the aftermath of conflict.

In this special series of the ICTJ Forum, we present a series of conversations with some of the world’s top peace mediators and truth commission experts, whose collective experience include years on the front lines of critical peace agreements in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Over the course of the next several weeks, we will present these podcasts in English and Spanish, and invite you to listen to the field’s top negotiators reflect back on their roles in peace negotiations in countries like Guatemala, Afghanistan, the DRC, and Indonesia.

These conversations opened up a unique area of inquiry into the context of the establishment of truth commissions: During negotiations, how is victims’ right to the truth taken into consideration? Why have some commissions established through peace processes failed? What lessons can be learned?

Our guests in the podcast series are:

  • Alan Doss, Senior Political Advisor, Kofi Annan Foundation Listen here
  • Betty Murungi, former Commissioner, TJRC of Kenya Listen here
  • Ian Martin, Previous Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya Listen here
  • Jean Arnault, Senior Fellow, Center on International Cooperation, NYU Listen here
  • Ron Slye, Profesor, Seattle University School of Law Listen here
  • Alvaro de Soto, Member, Global Leadership Foundation (Spanish) Listen here
  • Sofia Macher, Chair of the Reparations Council for Registry of Victims in Peru, (Spanish) Listen here
  • Rodrigo Uprimny, Executive Director, DeJusticia, Colombia (Spanish) Listen here

To conclude the series, we will release a final podcast, in which ICTJ experts will discuss lessons coming out of the symposium and provide insight about how ICTJ will continue to explore these questions.