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Truth Telling as a Peace-Building Activity: A Theoretical Overview

Borer, Tristan Anne
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) In, Tristan Anne Borer, editor, Telling the Truths: Truths Telling and Peace Building in Post- Conflict Societies. Notre Dame: University of Note Dame Press. pp.1-57

This introductory chapter addresses two issue. First, it provides an overview of the theoretical literatures on peace building and transitional justice and illuminates how this book addresses gaps in both literatures. In the case of the peace-building literature, I argue that truth-telling mechanisms as instruments of peace building have been paid insufficient attention. This is not to say that they have been completely ignored. Some peace scholars have made note of the importance of dealing with past injustices. Still, truth telling as a peace-building activity has not received the attention it deserves. The transitional justice literature review highlights the two weaknesses noted above: the lack of conceptual clarity prevalent throughout the literature and the ascription of vague aspirational qualities to truth-telling mechanisms (in particular truth commissions). The second purpose of this chapter is to highlight one particular way in which these two bodies of literature do intersect, as well as the contributions this book makes to this intersection. Specifically, the arguments by peace-building scholars and transitional justice specialists come together most closely around the concept of reconciliation. Important, however, is the fact that the term is frequently insufficiently clarified and thus problematically used by both sets of scholars. The second focus of this introduction, then, is a clarification of the concept of reconciliation as well as an explication of how truth-telling, peace building, reconciliation, and sustainable peace are interrelated. (excerpt)


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