Lesson Series 34: Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in Asia

The Issue

Truth and reconciliation commissions have had a significant effect on justice and democracy in several countries around the world, as well as contributing to a philosophical debate regarding human rights violations and their perpetrators. While there have been a few similar commissions formed in Asia, the concept of truth and reconciliation is little known within the region.

Asia currently faces many human rights violations, whether committed by military dictatorships, civilian governments, or perpetuated by state institutions, such as caste discrimination. What can Asia learn from the pioneering truth and reconciliation commissions of Argentina and Chile, considered to be amongst the most successful of such commissions? Particularly instructive is the role played by civil society in the inception and progress of both commissions, which were established to look into the human rights abuses inflicted by the respective military dictatorships after the fall of those regimes.


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