Responding to Mass Injustices: A Web-Bibliography
Beckers, Martine. (2003). The Needs of Victims and Survivors of Genocide in Rwanda and Programs to Alleviate the Burden. Paper submitted for the XIth International Symposium on Victimology, 13-18 July, Sellenbosch, South Africa. Downloaded 21 August 2003.
In this paper, Martine Beckers looks at violence and the victims of the genocide and massacres that took place in Rwanda in 1994. She concentrates on the needs of the most vulnerable and weak groups, as well as on assistance provided by various organizations in medical, psychological, spiritual, social, and judicial spheres. Her paper covers the following matters: the nature and extent of violence in Rwanda during the period of genocide; types and numbers of victims, including survivors of the hatred and violence; and types and extent of assistance to genocide survivors.
Sophie Bishop looks at the Rwandan form of conflict resolution known as gacaca from the viewpoint of relational justice, which emphasises the human need for relationships and desire for justice. Facing post-genocide disruption of the justice infrastructure, Rwanda has classified genocide-related crimes into four categories. Crimes in three of the categories will be dealt with outside the formal courts, in locally elected community courts at the commune or secteur level. According to Bishop, relational justice encourages communal ownership of the problem, local trials to enhance truth telling, and safeguards to ensure community accountability. Bishop thus advocates that Category Two crimes, as well as Categories Three and Four, be tried at the smaller secteur level, but also that the gacaca courts make recommendations to the formal judiciary rather than making final decisions.
Lambourne, Wendy. (1999). The pursuit of justice and reconciliation: Responding to genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda. Paper presented at the 40th Annual International Studies Association Convention, Washington, DC, 16-20 February. Columbia International Affairs Online, 6/99.
In this paper, Lambourne explores the pursuit of justice and reconciliation in response to situations involving genocide, with particular emphasis on Cambodia and Rwanda. She begins by detailing the development of an international human rights regime following World War II. This regime consists, for example, of declarations and treaties through the United Nations and through regional agreements. Nevertheless, millions have been killed or traumatized by genocide and crimes against humanity. In this context, Lambourne contends that justice and reconciliation are critical in post-conflict peacebuildng. To advance her argument, she discusses the meanings of justice and reconciliation, as well as accountability mechanisms (e.g., international tribunals and truth commissions). She then examines the conflict and post-conflict periods in Cambodia and Rwanda in light of these issues.
Patfoort, Pat. (2000). A reconciliation project with Ruandese Hutu and Tutsi. Paper presented at the Eighteenth General IPRA (International Peace Research Association) conference, held at Tampere, Finland, 5-9 August.
According to Pat Patfoort, many Hutu and Tutsi refugees from Rwanda live
in Belgium. In the late 1990s, Patfoort and others began working with a
group of refugees to assist them in dealing with the enmity and violence the
Hutu and Tutsi have experienced. Meeting monthly, the group consisted of a
variety of Hutu and Tutsi men and women of all ages and with various
backgrounds and educational levels. Patfoort describes the theoretical
models of conflict resolution at the foundation of this reconciliation
project, and the methods used with the refugees to engage in constructive
reflection and dialogue among themselves.
Rawson, David. (2000). Peace, justice, and forgiveness: The moral challenge of genocide. Address presented at Whitworth College, Spokane, Washington, November 13. Sponsored by The Weyerhaeuser Center for Christian Faith & Learning and Partners International.
David Rawson, formerly U. S. ambassador to Rwanda during the genocide of 1994, looks at the atrocities in Rwanda to illustrate the difficulty in achieving both justice and peace in the midst of conflict. He asks, “Can mercy, truth, justice and peace confront the challenge of genocide as a reality of our human condition?” His message begins with definitions of key terms such as genocide, peace, and justice. Then he turns to examine operational issues concerning the reestablishment of peace, administration of justice, and pursuit of reconciliation within an environment of genocide.
Bloomfield, David, Teresa Barnes, and Luc Huyse, eds. (2003). Reconciliation After Violent Conflict: A Handbook. Stockholm: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. 177pp. Downloaded 5 May 2003.
The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA)
has published a handbook for policy makers and practitioners addressing
reconciliation and reconstruction in the aftermath of societal conflict. It
explores three dimensions of reconciliation: the context in which it must
occur, the people needing reconciliation, and the instruments that can bring
it about. Understanding the context requires understanding of the legacy of
the past, and how the transition to a post-conflict society took place, in
addition to the immediate post-conflict context. The people involved in
reconciliation are victims and offenders, and sometimes those roles are
interchangeable. The tools of reconciliation include healing, justice,
truth-telling, and reparation.
Quinn, Joanna. (2003). Acknowledgement: The Road to Forgiveness. Working Paper Series. Issue 03/1. Hamilton, ON: Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition, McMaster University. Downloaded 11 December 2003.
In countries seeking to make the transition from a period of mass human rights violations to a new and peaceful future, rebuilding society is an extremely daunting task. Often, the majority of scarce resources are devoted to repairing the physical infrastructure rather than the social infrastructure. Quinn maintains, however, that reckoning with past injustices and seeking justice are at least as necessary to rebuilding as repair of physical infrastructures. In this regard, she further contends that there is a strong and causal relationship between acknowledgement and forgiveness, social trust, democracy, and reconciliation. Hence, in this document she argues that forgiveness – a process that involves acknowledgement of the past – may lead to many of the outcomes desired by those in transitional societies.
Rakate, Phenyo. (1999). Transitional Justice in South Africa and the Former Yugoslovia - A Critique. Paper to be delivered at a conference hosted by the History Workshop and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) , on “TRC: Commissioning the Past”, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 11-14 June. Downloaded 17 October 2003.
Despite the international community’s commitment to “Never again!”
following the World War II war trials, massive human rights atrocities have
occurred in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and elsewhere. In this context, Rakate
identifies two broad approaches to dealing with the past when a country
emerges from a period of human rights violations. One approach is based on
retributive justice, characterized by criminal trials to punish
perpetrators. The other approach is based on restorative justice,
characterized by reconciliation and amnesty through a truth-telling process.
Rakate locates the approach to violations in the former Yugoslavia in
retributive justice, and the approach to violations in South Africa in
restorative justice. This leads to comparison of the approaches pursued in
the former Yugoslavia and in South Africa to evaluate the advantages and
disadvantages of each as a form of transitional justice.
Schärf, Wilfred. (1997). "Re-integrating Militarised Youths (Street gangs and self-defence units) into the Mainstream in South Africa: From Hunters to Game-keepers?". Urban Childhood Conference, Trondheim, Norway. Session 4.3: Children Out of Place. University of Cape Town, Institute of Criminology.
In this 1997 paper, Schärf details the history of gang activity and youth militarization in South Africa. He also explains how the new democracy and the opening to ideas provide an opportunity for the government and civil society to help these young people become positive and productive members of society. He first suggests the use of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission format to air the crimes committed by gangs, to seek understanding and apology, and to open spaces in society for gang members to change. Schärf also suggests the use of restorative justice processes to aid with this demilitarisation of youth. He suggests the adoption of family group conferences and sentencing circles as methods of reintegrating the youth. He goes a step further by suggesting that the family group conferences become a type of support group with periodic meetings to encourage positive activity on the part of the youth. In essence, Schärf calls for experiments testing the restorative processes that have aided his country thus far.
Simpson, Graeme. (2000). "The Politics Fits the Crime": Competing Interpretations of Victim Empowerment in South Africa. Paper presented at the Crime and Policing in Transitional Societies conference held at South African Institute of International Affairs, 30 August - 1 September. Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. Downloaded 25 June 03.
Graeme Simpson maintains in this paper that competing approaches to victim empowerment lie at the heart of debates over punitive and restorative models of justice in the newly democratized South Africa. The competing approaches and the consequent debates stem from the need to restore the integrity of the rule of law, while at the same time pursuing a supposedly victim-centered process of reconciliation based on truth recovery, victim testimony, and conditional amnesty for perpetrators of injustice. The debates are occurring within the criminal courts of the country and within South Africa’s national reconciliation initiatives, particularly through efforts such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Simpson explores these competing approaches and the challenges they present to societies attempting to work their way through issues of transitional justice.
van der Spuy, Elrena. (2000). Crime and its Discontent: Recent South African Responses and Policies. Paper presented at the Crime and Policing in Transitional Societies conference held at South African Institute of International Affairs, 30 August - 1 September. Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. Downloaded 25 June 03.
In this essay, Elrena van der Spuy looks at the shifting crime policies
of the South African government in recent years. She contends that
government perspectives on and responses to crime follow many rationales,
rather than one. Such perspectives and responses are also devised in a very
fluid and often contentious social and political context. With all of this
in mind, van der Spuy examines transitional politics in relation to
increases in crime, specific governmental responses to crime, the question
of militarization of crime control, key developments regarding legislative
frameworks and policing structures, organized crime and public order, and
future challenges for South African governmental policies in relation to
Truth and Reconciliation:
Since the early 1970s, more than 20 “truth commissions” have been established around the world. Some were created by international organizations such as the United Nations; a few were created by nongovernmental organizations; and the majority were established by the national governments of the countries in which they operated. While truth commissions and the like have much in common, they also exhibit a considerable diversity. Additionally, the work of such commissions has generated a vast literature on them. In this paper Avruch and Verajano provide both a review essay and an annotated bibliography of literature on truth commissions. In their review essay they cover key issues faced by commissions: justice, truth, reconciliation, democratization and culture. They organize the bibliography not by regions or by main themes or issues, but by categories of writings in books and chapters in books, in scholarly and specialized journals, and in non-specialized or general interest periodicals.
Borer, Tristan Anne. (2001). Reconciliation in South Africa: Defining success. Kroc Institute Occasional Paper 20:OP:1. South Bend, Indiana: University of Notre Dame, The Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.
A question often asked of any program or process is the question of effectiveness. Did a program or process achieve the goals or results set for it? This question or questions like it are often raised in relation to the work of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). What good did it do? What did it accomplish? Did it work? In this paper, Borer investigates the connection between the term “reconciliation” and the term “success” with respect to the results of the TRC’s work. The aim is twofold: (1) provide an analytical framework clarifying the term “reconciliation” and various understandings or uses of it, especially in the South African context; and (2) examine the term “success” and issues concerning measures of success.
The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission pursued wrongs done under apartheid by granting amnesty in exchange for truth. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, chair of the commission, has defended this arrangement for both practical and moral reasons. Specifically, he has rejected what he calls the “Nuremberg paradigm”. In this article, David Crocker contends that, while practical reasons may carry significant weight in explaining the arrangement, the Archbishop’s moral reasoning cannot justify rejection of that paradigm. To make his case, Crocker examines vengeance, punishment, retribution, and reconciliation.
Hamber, Brandon. (1998). How Should We Remember? Issues to Consider When Establishing Commission and Structures for Dealing with the Past. Paper presented at "Dealing with the Past: Reconciliation Processes and Peace-Building", Belfast, Northern Ireland, 9 June. Downloaded 7 March 2003.
Brandon Hamber’s basic premise is that when countries attempt to overcome a violent past, it is better to deal with the past through investigation, truth recovery, justice, and support for victims or survivors of violence than to ignore the past. Hamber thus contributes to the growing international trend toward seeing truth commissions and similar commissions as useful mechanisms for dealing with a violent past. He begins by summarizing some of the debates about whether a country should investigate or “remember” its past. That leads to discussion of five issues that need to be considered if a process of dealing with the past is to be undertaken. Written in light of significant changes in Northern Ireland following the 1998 Good Friday peace accords, Hamber also gives considerable weight to lessons learned from the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
In many countries around the world, societies and international institutions are trying to decide how they should reckon with past atrocities committed by their own people within their own borders. It is common to believe that trials and punishment, on the one hand, and reconciliation, on the other, are mutually incompatible. A nation must choose one or the other – and reconciliation is commonly viewed to be superior to punishment. David Crocker in this article assesses the arguments of Archbishop Desmond Tutu in defending the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s granting of amnesty to wrongdoers who revealed the truth about their past actions. In the course of his assessment, Crocker argues that retribution, properly conceived, is an appropriate aim of punishment and that it differs significantly from vengeance. Moreover, he contends that a society must be wary of overestimating the restorative effect of amnesty and forgiveness and underestimating the reconciling power of justice. In his view, punishment and reconciliation, when properly conceived, are both morally urgent goals that can be combined in morally appropriate ways.
Eisnaugle discusses the necessity for, and possible benefits of, using restorative justice principles when responding to international crimes and conflicts. The common retributive reactions of prosecution, war, and other violent means often lead to further violence rather than healing and peace. The article argues that using restorative justice principles to address crime and conflict, as was done in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, has proven that focusing on healing can end cycles of violence. In order to promote an end to international conflict and violence, therefore, countries unable to create their own truth commissions should have the opportunity to respond to conflict through restorative means by way of a permanent international truth commission. (adapted from abstract).
Gibson, James L. (2001). Does Truth Lead to Reconciliation? Testing the Causal Assumptions of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Process. Prepared for delivery at the 2001 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hilton San Francisco and Towers, August 30 - September 2. Copyright by the American Political Science Association. Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. Downloaded 14 May 2003.
In South Africa, the truth and reconciliation process is explicitly based on the hypothesis that knowledge of the past will lead to acceptance, tolerance, and reconciliation in the future. Jim Gibson tests this hypothesis, based on data collected from a national survey of more than 3,700 South Africans completed in 2001.
Gibson, James L. (2001). Truth, justice, and reconciliation: Judging amnesty in South Africa. Revision of paper presented at the Midwest Political Science Association annual meeting, Chicago, April 19-21. St. Louis, MO: Washington University.
Societies in transition from older, repressive regimes to newer, more democratic systems must find an acceptable way to deal with the wrongs of the past. In recent years, a common recourse is the institution of some sort of “truth commission” to seek an acceptable formula for reckoning with the past while also leading toward a peaceful present and future. A significant example was the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, with its exchange of amnesty for truth, in hopes for peace. In this paper Gibson examines the consequences of truth and reconciliation processes for the consolidation of democracy. Specifically, he investigates how desires for justice affect judgments of the amnesty component of the truth and reconciliation process.
Hamber, Brandon, Ntombi Mosikare, Maggie Friedman, and Traggy Maepa. (2000). Speaking Out: The role of the Khulumani Victim Support Group in dealing with the past in South Africa. Paper presented at Psychosocial Programmes After War and Dictatorship conference, Frankfurt, Germany, 17 to 21 June. Downloaded 20 October 2003, from www.brandonhamber.com.
Khulumani, meaning “speak out” in Zulu, is also the name of a self-help survivor support group that was started in 1995 in South Africa in anticipation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). One of the purposes of the TRC was to offer space to survivors to tell their stories of past violations and be heard. The TRC also had the power to grant amnesty to perpetrators of political atrocities who fully disclosed all the details of actions. This so-called trade of truth for justice was supposed to help uncover all the truth about the past and give victims answers to their unresolved cases. The TRC also had to make recommendations with regard to granting reparations to those, and their families, who were found to be victims of murder, attempted murder, torture or severe ill-treatment between March 1960 and May 1995 in South Africa. (adapted from the introduction)
Hamber, Brandon, Dineo Nageng, and Gabriel O'Malley. (2000). “Telling it like it is…" : Survivors’ perceptions of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Psychology in Society, 26:18-42. Downloaded 20 October 2003, from www.brandonhamber.com.
This article focuses on survivors' perspectives of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in South Africa. It probes their feelings, thoughts and views both before and after interacting with the TRC, and explores their feelings and opinions about issues such as justice, punishment and amnesty. Based on interviews with twenty survivors of political violence committed under the apartheid government, Hamber argues that healing, truth, justice and reconciliation are interrelated. For survivors, relationships between the concepts are not linear, that is, truth does not automatically lead to reconciliation. Hamber writes that most of those who interacted with the TRC expected, at the very least, that they would get some truth about their case. However, many have felt let down by the TRC process, despite its successes at publicising the atrocities of the past and fostering national reconciliation. (adapted from author's abstract).
The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission has become an international symbol for addressing a country’s violent past. It is often invoked as a model for other countries with traumatic histories. Hamber and Wilson identify and scrutinize a number of assumptions embedded in this view: that a nation has a collective identity; that nations have psyches that experience trauma similar to individuals; and that national processes of dealing with the past and individual processes are generally concurrent and equivalent. Drawing attention to a number of post-conflict societies, the authors raise significant questions about those assumptions and actions based on them.
Brandon Hamber examines the purpose and work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to ascertain the status of truth, justice, and reconciliation in South Africa. The core purpose of the TRC was to promote national unity and reconciliation through investigation and disclosure of the nature, causes, and extent of human rights violations committed during apartheid in South Africa. One of its key mechanisms for eliciting information was the guarantee of amnesty for truth. The TRC was also to make recommendations about reparations for the survivors of human rights injustices. Through public hearings and a written report, the TRC gathered and published a record of that time, and made its recommendations. Hamber details and assesses the purpose, mandate, operation, and results of the TRC in light of the pursuit of truth, justice, and reconciliation in South Africa.
Recent decades of human rights violations inflicted by the injustice of
apartheid have to be confronted frankly and constructively. In the light of
what other countries have done, South Africa opted for a Commission that
would do its utmost to uncover the truth and to contribute towards
reconciliation. Using as a frame of reference the demanding objectives that
had been set for this Commission, Hay’s article presents a brief discussion
of the functioning of the Commission and an initial assessment of its
achievements. He considers the overwhelming and almost impossible task,
further complicated by practical and psychological limitations. What
has nevertheless been accomplished is duly recognised and appraised.
Preliminary conclusions are given for the ongoing responsibilities of
respect, reparation and reconciliation. These do not only apply to South
Africa's road ahead, but also to all situations where truth has to be
revealed and people have to be reconciled.
Kayser, Undine. (2000). Creating a Space for Encounter and Rememberance: The Healing of Memories Process. Research Report Written for the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation and the Institute for Healing of Memories. Downloaded 29 April 2003.
This research report was written for the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation and for the Institute for Healing of Memories, and is part of a larger research project aimed at a comprehensive analysis of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in South Africa. The field research of Kayser, a postgraduate student in social anthropology at the University of Cape Town, looked at a process known as the “healing of memories” (HOM). It was a process that supported the work of the TRC. Yet it also presented an alternative intervention model for speaking about the past by providing an additional and different space from the TRC’s testimonial arena. Kayser discusses the history of the HOM process, the nature of the research study, the HOM workshop model, key concepts in the HOM process, and challenges and potential of the HOM process.
Communal conflicts have beset many parts of the world in recent decades.
As attempts are made to end violence and resolve conflicts, a number of
countries have launched commissions to seek truth and sometimes
reconciliation. Lerche observes that national reconciliation is a difficult
technique to apply and a difficult goal to achieve. Often there is a tension
between the pursuit of reconciliation and the provision of justice for
victims of past wrongs. Lerche explores this tension by examining the
concept and application of reconciliation, the relation between truth
commissions and reconciliation, and the need to develop a new political
culture in societies recovering from conflict. Throughout the essay examples
from various countries (e.g., South Africa and Guatemala) illustrate the
Mofokeng, Tlhoki. (2000). The TRC Contributions to Restorative Justice. Paper presented at the Just Peace? Peace Making and Peace Building for the New Millennium conference, held in Auckland, New Zealand, 24-28 April. Auckland, New Zealand: Massey University, School of Social and Cultural Studies, Centre for Justice and Peace Development.
Tlhoki Mofokeng assesses the role and results of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) with respect to forgiveness and justice in the face of the injustice and suffering inflicted on South African people and society during apartheid and the struggle against apartheid. After providing a summary of the socio-political context that gave rise to the TRC, Mofokeng outlines the structure and mandate of the TRC. This leads to consideration of the TRC’s contributions to the recovery of truth, reconciliation, and healing in South Africa.
Nagy, Rosemary. (2001). Reconciliation and the Public/Private Distinction. The Role of Victims and Beneficiaries in South Africa's TRC. Paper prepared for delivery at the 2001 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hilton San Francisco and Towers. August 30 - September 2.
The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has been the largest, most public, and best funded truth commission to date. Hence, it has gained much attention. Additionally, it has been noteworthy because it sought not only truth but reconciliation. It has been touted as a model for other countries in similar contexts. For these reasons, says Rosemary Nagy, careful attention should be given to the ways in which the TRC pursued national reconciliation. She asserts that reconciliation should involve the reconstruction of a strong public/private distinction because that distinction was egregiously violated under apartheid. To make this case, Nagy argues for an understanding of privacy as inviolate personality. She then contends that the TRC blurs the distinction between public and private in its emphases on forgiveness, healing the nation, and heroism. Thus Nagy concludes that the TRC fails to redress adequately the injustices of the past.
Odendaal explores the paradoxes of incorporating truth, peace, mercy and justice into one process. He points out that each of these ideas is needed for the creation of reconciliation. A safe place for the expression of truth is needed to build peace and lead to reconciliation. Odendaal determines that despite some weaknesses the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has worked in restoring peace to the larger society.
In this paper, Theophus Smith considers the nature and practice of truth and reconciliation in the aftermath of violence. He begins with the case of South Africa – particularly its Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). While some severely criticize the TRC as making a mockery of justice, others, including Smith, see it as an example of restorative justice in contrast to retributive justice. With this in mind, Smith points to a recently developed research model to identify the requirements of restorative justice and advance its development. This model is called RTJ by its advocate Thomas Scheff, after the combination of restorative justice and therapeutic jurisprudence. Smith then seeks to apply Scheff’s work to the practice of truth and reconciliation in response to violence.
The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) did not have a specific mandate to advance reconciliation in particular local communities. Yet a significant part of its role was to build a foundation for reconciliation in South Africa. On that basis, and with the aim of understanding the future of reconciliation in South Africa, Hugo van der Merwe examines how the TRC has changed the context within which local communities pursue reconciliation. In this case study, more than fifty people were interviewed in 1997 by van der Merwe to gain insight into local dynamics and the role of the TRC in Duduza and the Greater Nigel area.