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The hope for healing: What can truth commissions do?

Minow, Martha
June 4, 2015

Source: (2000) In Truth v. justice: The morality of truth commissions, eds. Robert I. Rotberg and Dennis Thompson, 235-260. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

In this chapter Minow reflects on the degree to which collective responses to mass violence can redress and help to heal the trauma of those victimized by that violence. This goal should be one of the significant measures of the adequacy of such responses. For example, formal judicial processes and truth commissions should be evaluated not only for their adequacy in establishing the rule of law and accountability, deterring future violations, and gathering a formal public record, but also for their adequacy in redressing the trauma of mass violence. With this in mind, Minow discusses the value of truth commissions in comparison with judicial prosecutions, issues related to the healing of trauma on both a personal level and a societal level, and the range of goals (in addition to truth and justice) that should inform the nature of collective responses to large-scale violence.


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