Investigating truth commissions

Miraan Moon Sa, Florida International University


This thesis examines the use of ad hoc national truth commissions created to address human rights violations committed by repressive regimes. To analyze truth commissions' contributions to human rights protection and democratic transitions, a framework is developed to analyze: (1) the challenges in addressing past violations; and (2) the influence of coercive forces, such as the military, on decision-making regarding these violations. A survey of nineteen commissions and close review of the specific experience in Argentina, El Salvador, and South Africa suggests that governments face daunting challenges in harnessing coercive forces, and consequently past human rights violators are often granted amnesties and pardons. While truth commissions usually signal some commitment to the principles of democratic governance, they may serve primarily to legitimate a successor government and as such may fail to represent a long-term commitment to human rights protection.

Subject Area

International law|International relations|Social structure|Political science

Recommended Citation

Sa, Miraan Moon, "Investigating truth commissions" (1998). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI1390035.