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Nonviolent law? Linking nonviolent social change and truth and reconciliation commissions

McCarty III, James W.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2012) West Virginia Law Review. Vol 114: 970-1003

One of the unique features of the twentieth century was the widespread
use of organized nonviolent action and civil disobedience in the pursuit of dramatic
social and political change around the world. In the West, the most wellknown
of these movements are the Indian protests against the British imperial
government led by Mohandas Gandhi, the Civil Rights Movement in the southern
United States led by Martin Luther King, Jr., and the decades-long nonviolent
portion of the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa. These are not the
only examples,’ however, and the so-called “Arab Spring” or “Arab Awakening”
2 has recently reminded us that nonviolent action can still be effective in
bringing about drastic social change towards the creation of just and democratic
societies. In reality, nonviolence never ceased being an effective social and political
tool for social change. In conjunction with the principled and strategic use
of nonviolent tactics in seeking social and political change, the twentieth century
birthed a new legal-political3 mechanism and institution: the Truth Commission.
4 It is no coincidence that these two modem phenomena arrived on the scene
within a relatively short span, just a few decades, of one another


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