The Case of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission

South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid - Michigan State …

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The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and World Trade
(Article for the Trade Encyclopedia)

Annelies Verdoolaege, Ghent University, Belgium
(October, 2004)

supporters gathered at Jabulani Stadium, in Soweto, South Africa, to celebrate the release of Mandela, on February 11, 1990.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission (South Africa) - …

As with most negotiated political settlements, South Africa’s transition in the early 1990s, from authoritarian and repressive white minority rule to a democratic dispensation, was characterised by compromise and concession.

Although the pursuit of justice and accountability for a multitude of human rights violations were central tenets in the struggle against apartheid, these concerns remained largely off the negotiation agenda. Dealing with issues of past violations and their respective responsibilities was inevitably sensitive and contested ground. Exactly what should be looked into, how and to what end depended very much on insights, experiences and related perspectives and expectations; one man’s freedom fighter was another’s terrorist, defenders of law and order for some were instruments of inhumanity and repression for others.

All sides accused each other of culpability in the violence, and at the same time denied, excused and obfuscated around their own complicity. Of course, interpretations of responsibility for past violations, whether and how to deal with them were also imbued with notions of morality, values and principle. The conflicts of the past were littered with victims. Who would accommodate their interests? Was it possible to move forward, to put in place a constitutional dispensation with a justiciable Bill of Rights, without some sort of reckoning for what had happened? Conversely, some questioned whether digging up the past would be counter-productive and if efforts to hold perpetrators accountable would generate significant obstacles to the negotiation.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)inSouth Africa and the Luena Memorandum inAngola, did they helped in healing the woundedpeople?

The reparations process over the past decade has been characterized by some as a missed opportunity for targeted poverty alleviation and individual reconciliation. International experience is testament to the fact that victims of past violence are unlikely to forgive or find a sense of closure as long as they continue to suffer the consequences of the injury. In South Africa this would require addressing both individual needs as well as the broader socio-economic context. Research from one of the principle NGOs engaged in TRC-related processes (CSVR) finds that the R30,000 individual grants that have been paid out to just over 16,000 recognised victims have not had any significant impact on the ability of survivors to overcome the consequences of their injuries or create opportunities for a better life.

There has been some movement in recent years towards providing services and benefits through the programs of various government departments, however to date these have been ill-coordinated and without a monitoring function in place it is impossible to assess actual impact. Promises have been made regarding the establishment of a post-TRC body to oversee the implementation and monitoring of the full range of recommendations but this has yet to materialize. The creation of such a unit would go some ways to reviving the issue of reparations and ensuring that the work of the TRC and the needs of victims do not merely fade from the national agenda.

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission ..

The coming of democracy in South Africa and coming ..

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up by the Government of National Unity to help deal with what happened under apartheid. The conflict during this period resulted in violence and human rights abuses from all sides. No section of society escaped these abuses.

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Although this process did uncover many previously unknown details and crimes, the TRC had a number of flaws that prohibited true reconciliation for South Africans.

TRC Research Website: The South African Truth ..

Research on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its influence on present day South African political and socio-economic society, carried out in and around the Department of African Languages and Cultures at Ghent University (Belgium).