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How Should We Remember? Issues to Consider When Establishing Commissions and Structures for Dealing with the Past

Hamber, Brandon
June 4, 2015

Source: (1998) Paper presented at “Dealing with the Past: Reconciliation Processes and Peace-Building.” Belfast, Northern Ireland, 9 June 1998. Downloaded 15 July 2004.

The basic premise in Brandon Hamber’s perspective in his paper is this: when countries attempt to overcome a violent past, it is better to deal with the past through investigation, truth recovery, justice, and support for victims or survivors of violence than to ignore the past. Hamber thus contributes to the growing international trend toward seeing truth commissions and similar commissions as useful mechanisms for dealing with a violent past. He begins by summarizing some of the debates about whether a country should investigate or “rememberâ€? its past. That leads to discussion of five issues that need to be considered if a process of dealing with the past is to be undertaken. Written in light of significant changes in Northern Ireland following the 1998 Good Friday peace accord, Hamber also gives considerable weight to lessons learned from the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.


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