Source: (1999) African Journal in Conflict Resolution. No. 1.

South Africa's past has to be grappled with, courageously and penetratingly. Especially its 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, this article presents a brief discussion of the functioning of the Commission and an initial assessment of its achievements. The overwhelming and almost impossible task, further complicated by practical and psychological limitations, is taken into consideration. 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.