Source: (2003) In Nigel Biggar, ed., Burying the Past: Making Peace and Doing Justice after Civil Conflict. Expanded and updated. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. Pp. 155-174.

According to Brandon Hamber, wars in the last 100 years have moved increasingly from conflicts between nations to conflicts between ethnic groups. Correspondingly, civilian casualty rates have dramatically risen. War and civil strife clearly affect not only combatants but entire societies. Populations are victimized; civil institutions are damaged or destroyed; and the social fabric of life is torn or shredded. After such trauma, strategies for social transformation must address widespread rebuilding of political, economic, and social relationships. Truth commissions have often been instituted to pursue a positive transition. The idea is that bringing to light the past promotes reconciliation, healing, transformation, and prevention. Against this background, and with the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the forefront, Hamber considers the issue of healing and the role of victims in the context of political transition. In particular he contends that a linear progression and uniform set of responses to violence are not typical of the psychological healing process. This has implications for the role of truth commissions as they deal with the aftermath of conflict and injustice.