Rule-of-law Tools for Post-conflict States

Truth Commissions

image of Rule-of-law Tools for Post-conflict States
Countries emerging from conflict often suffer weak or non-existent rule of law, inadequate law enforcement and justice administration capacity, and increased instances of human rights violations. This situation is often exacerbated by a lack of public confidence in State authorities and a shortage of resources. These rule-of-law tools will provide practical guidance to field missions and transitional administrations in critical transitional justice and rule of law-related areas. This publication specifically sets out basic principles and approaches to truth commissions and is intended to assist United Nations and other policymakers in advising on the development of truth-seeking mechanisms.



Establishing a truth commission

As noted above, the strongest truth commissions are founded through a process of consultation and careful consideration of what kind of commission would be most appropriate for the context. Each commission should be crafted to reflect national needs, strengths and opportunities. These consultative processes should have two equally important aims: increasing the understanding of a truth commission and strengthening its terms of reference through input about the most appropriate mandate. The consultation should explicitly include victim communities and civil society organizations, and should allow for a period of significant input into the fundamental mandate of the commission, as well as feedback on specific draft terms of reference as they are developed. This process, which typically would include workshops, seminars, and opportunities to debate and suggest specific components of mandate and design, should generally take place over several months, at least, and should incorporate views from all parts of the country and all major sectors, especially those communities most affected by the violence. Communication with victim and civil society groups, especially, should also be maintained during the work of the commission to allow public feedback on the methodology and impact of the commission’s work.


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