What is a Truth Commission and Why Does it Matter?

2009Peace & Conflict Review, Eric Brahm

There is a growing body of comparative research that seeks to produce empirical evidence and, thereby, contribute to policy debates on the relative merits of truth commissions. However, these efforts have been plagued by a lack of attention to case selection. The lack of consensus on what constitutes the universe of truth commission cases has contributed to a pattern of inconclusive, inconsistent findings. This article reviews the empirical literature and finds over 70 potential truth commission cases. After examining some of the reasons behind such disagreement, Brahm offers Freeman’s (2006) typology of investigative commissions as the best suited to advance research in the field.

Key wordspeace processes / post conflict / transitional justice