Source: (2010) International Journal of Transitional Justice, doi:10.1093/ijtj/ijq010.

This article argues that truth commissions as a transitional justice mechanism have fallen short of what is achievable within the context of their own aspirations, particularly with respect to cases involving ethnicity-based violence. This failure is primarily due to the structural application of the narrative process, where (1) the commissions shy away from exploring the motivations behind violent actions; (2) victims’ and perpetrators’ voices are restrained to fit into collective accounts; and (3) victims’ voices are elevated over perpetrators’ in the memory-making aspect of the commissions’ work. This article asserts that truth commissions must focus on personal narratives over grand narratives, de-essentialize the ‘victim’ and the ‘perpetrator’ and place victims’ and perpetrators’ narratives on equal footing with respect to the collective memory project. Governments must allow more time and resources for truth commissions to delve into the nuances of conflict in order to create a more feasible platform for realistic reconciliation and the possibility of enduring peace. (Author's abstract)