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Expectations and Promises in the Quest for Truth: Examining Victims' Perceptions of Truth Commission Participation in Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Research.
2016 (English)In: Peace and Conflict: The Journal of Peace Psychology, ISSN 1078-1919, E-ISSN 1532-7949, Vol. 22, no 4, 306-317 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Existing research suggests that victims' needs and desires often go unfulfilled after testifying in truth commissions, which commonly leads to disappointment with transitional justice processes. What is lesser discussed is why it is that victims anticipate receiving particular benefits or outcomes following truth-telling and possible consequences when nothing results after the process ends. Semistructured interviews conducted with victims of mass violence in Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste who gave public testimony during their country's truth commission indicate that victims anticipated practical outcomes that would improve their lives following their truth commission participation. These expectations appear to have developed because of inherent feelings that their contribution to the commission would be reciprocated or because of either explicit or implicit promises made by their country's truth commission/government. When these promises were broken or reciprocation not delivered, victims experienced an array of negative feelings including frustration, anger, and sadness. This article argues that victims can be further disempowered and marginalized when they do not receive a substantive benefit following their contribution to a truth commission. The grievances that can result in this way not only threaten the legitimacy of the truth commission and by extension the transitional state, but also the preservation of lasting peace.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 22, no 4, 306-317 p.
Keyword [en]
victims, truth commissions, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, expectations
National Category
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-311215DOI: 10.1037/pac0000198ISI: 000387997600003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-311215DiVA: diva2:1059003
Available from: 2016-12-22 Created: 2016-12-22 Last updated: 2016-12-22Bibliographically approved

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Guthrey, Holly L.
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Department of Peace and Conflict Research
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