Truth commissions and dealing with the past

Kirk Simpson

in Truth Recovery in Northern Ireland

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780719078620
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781703045 | DOI:
Truth commissions and dealing with the past

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This chapter features an analysis of the flaws of truth commissions based on a detailed theoretical examination of the contested notions of ‘truth’, and the moral and political justification for the creation and implementation of the machinery of state-sponsored historical enquiry, in order that instructive lessons for critically interpreting the past in Northern Ireland might be learned. It also seeks to outline the ways in which ostensibly ‘objective’ legal discourse has colonised the truth and justice project in transitional societies. This supposedly impartial template is in some cases the product of subjective and calculated political reflection, and it has often been imposed and used in a cynical fashion by governments and policymakers to obscure the ways in which post-violence partisan political dynamics manipulate and distort the possibilities for the recovery of inclusive and diverse truth.

Keywords: truth commission flaws; state-sponsored historical enquiry; Northern Ireland; transitional societies; partisan political dynamics

Chapter.  12358 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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