Source: (2000) In Truth v. justice: The morality of truth commissions, eds. Robert I. Rotberg and Dennis Thompson, 3-21. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Rotberg begins his chapter and the book with the observation that societies seeking to move from a repressive and brutal past to a more democratic and more just future need an accounting of that past. Over the years, in different contexts, truth commissions have been set up to provide that accounting, but with a variety of mandates and constraints. Truth commissions with the fullest mandates and least constraints have sought more detailed and public accounting, the aims being to prevent the recurrence of past wrongdoing and to restore victims and society. In this regard, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has set the model for such commissions. Hence, as Rotberg notes, this book focuses on the TRC, as well as the theory of truth commissions in general and the promise and tensions inherent in them.