Source: (2012) Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution Vol. 27:3

Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRCs),' particularly since the influence of Desmond Tutu's South African Commission,2 are increasingly used to discover and reveal past wrongdoings following armed conflicts. 3 They are often established with a requirement to report within two or three years.4 A problem with such speedy reporting is that the most traumatized victims often take longest to be ready to participate in transitional justice.5 The experience of the civil war in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, also demonstrates that it often takes many years of traditional reconciliation work before perpetrators of the worst atrocities acquire the confidence that they can confess their crimes without fear of revenge.6 It will be explained in this lecture that collective confessions (by military units) often preceded individual confessions of war crimes. So how should we think about the sequencing of truth, justice, and reconciliation after war? The lecture makes a case for Truth and Reconciliation Commissions that are permanent institutions,7 keeping their doors open to assist with truth, reconciliation, and justice at whatever point in time victims and perpetrators are emotionally ready. By the time all of the survivors have died, the TRC may function as no more than a museum that stores their testimony and the artifacts of suffering,