Source: (2003) Polity. 34(1): 23-51.

South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission is one of the many national and international institutions that have been created in recent decades to promote "transitional jusice" as a part of a process of democratic change. One of the unique features of the TRC was its integration of restorative justice principles into an effort to address apartheif-era violence. I trace the conflicting goals and political compromises that influenced South Africa's restorative approach through several episodes of transition. Restorative Justice was associated not only with an effort to "heal" political divisions by depoliticizing the investigation, but also with the goals of political judgement and radical social change. Attention to the tensions between these goals sheds light on some of the problematic ways that truth commissions may serve to legitimate political compromises, as well as the ways that truth commission investigations may contribute to ongoing democratic change by exposing the limitations of transitional bargains. (author's abstract).