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Local Norms and Truth Telling: Examining Experienced Incompatibilities within Truth Commissions of 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: The Contemporary Pacific, ISSN 1043-898X, E-ISSN 1527-9464, Vol. 28, no 1, 1-29 p.Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
Abstract [en]

In recent decades, transitional justice processes have increasingly placed a focus on victims of mass violence, which has been particularly noticeable in truth commissions. Although truth commissions have become more "victim-centered" over time, there is little empirical research that examines what this actually portends for victims in practice, particularly in terms of how these institutions interact with local norms and sociocultural values. To begin addressing this gap, this article highlights several findings from nineteen semi-structured interviews conducted in Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste, which suggest that the truth-commission processes in each country may have missed the mark in terms of respecting the sociocultural values as well as local norms and expectations of those who participated in their national public hearings. Based on the data obtained from this study, it appears that ignoring sociocultural values and local norms may cause negative consequences for victims, including hindering their ability to move beyond their past trauma as well as inciting distress, worry, and confusion. The findings presented in this article draw attention to potentially problematic issues that arise within truth commissions when local norms and values are ignored; the hope is that this will help substantiate the need for developing culturally sensitive and locally relevant transitional justice processes, thus contributing to both theory and practice in the field of transitional justice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 28, no 1, 1-29 p.
Keyword [en]
Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, truth commissions, transitional justice, local norms, victims
National Category
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-301430DOI: 10.1353/cp.2016.0009ISI: 000380113000002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-301430DiVA: diva2:954586
Available from: 2016-08-23 Created: 2016-08-23 Last updated: 2016-08-23Bibliographically approved

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Guthrey, Holly L.
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Department of Peace and Conflict Research
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