Source: (2005) International Political Science Review. 26(4): 341-361
South Africaâ€™s truth and reconciliation process is perhaps the
best-known example of an institutionalized attempt to build a more
democratic future by confronting human rights atrocities from the past.
Yet the South African case is often quite misunderstood, with many
misconceptions widely accepted and asserted. This article addresses five
facts about the South African experience. Using data from a large
national survey of ordinary people, it demonstrates both that the truth
and reconciliation process is viewed as effective by most people and that
in fact systematic evidence indicates that the process achieved several of
its primary goals. From the South African case we learn that, despite their
various shortcomings and compromises, truth processes can attain
legitimacy among ordinary people in transitional systems and that they
can contribute to societal reconciliation.
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