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Recovering truth, transforming conflict: an exploration of ways in which truth recovery can contribute to conflict transformation in conditions where the prospect for justice for grave violations is problematical.

Boek - Dissertatie

Abstract (English) In what ways do victims see recovering truth about the violation perpetrated against them as a means of transforming the violation's continuing impact? Set among the mutation in recent years of transitional justice into the dogma of an internationally mobile, highly professionalised elite, this research question invokes the axiological leanings of the early transitional justice initiatives - the priority accorded victims and the widespread acknowledgement of truth as indispensable. Tracing the etymological evolution of transitional justice through to the milestone publication of a Guidance Note by the United Nations Secretary-General and exploring an alternative approach prevalent in Deutschophone Europe, the Conceptual Framework for Dealing with the Past, the thesis observes in the status quaestionis an effective marginalising of victims' agency in the transformation of conflicts ensuing from their violation and a subsuming of truth recovery in a hotchpotch of other projects and priorities. Against this, the thesis argues that truth recovery constitutes the conditio sine qua non of any initiative to address the burden of gross human rights violations; the thesis also declares - as a self-evident assumption, a strategic necessity, and as a useful limitation to its research focus - that the transformation of any conflict necessarily entails working with the needs expressed by those who have suffered the brunt of the violence, victims of human rights violations. Working within the parameters provided by these two assertions, the thesis enunciates a victimological approach to truth recovery. This approach is given form through a typologising of truth. The process begins by acknowledging the necessity but also the limitations of the type of truth victims may obtain through the processes of criminal justice, which are rigorously focused on who is to blame for what. Other approaches to truth are explored, including a groundbreaking typology articulated by the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in fulfilment of its mandate to restore dignity to victims by enabling them to share their own versions of the violations they had suffered. The typologising process also encompasses a type identified in a civil society facilitated, medico-therapeutic project and a potential type of truth that emerged from Germany's Historikerstreid (historians' debates over the present demands ensuing from the Holocaust). With these types collated, synthesised and critically evaluated, and the potential fecundity of a victimological approach to truth now manifest, the typology is consolidated into six types. Crucially, the typology is offered as an open system - a seed thought, capable of growing and shifting kaleidoscopically in response to the needs expressed by victims in their efforts to recover agency, using resources - linguistic, cultural, social - natural and specific to their particular context. The thesis takes a step back from transitional justice to seek out means of discerning transformations produced by the recovery of truth in conflicts victims endure in the aftermath of heinous violation. A set of criteria was constructed against which to assess candidate theoretical approaches, before eventually selecting John Paul Lederach's model of conflict transformation, with its analytic framework comprising four axes - personal, relational, structural and cultural. These dimensions are then used to constitute dependent variables in a matrix built for the empirical research, with the truth types featured in the typology then cast as the matrix' independent variables. In addition to the matrix - a research tool purpose built for this study - a hypothesis is crafted, for presentation to victims, to test the widely held assumption that channelling victims' needs for truth into judicial process provides them with sufficient satisfaction. A chapter is then devoted to the empirical research, which adapted an elicitive approach articulated by Paulo Freire to draw response on the various truth types from a purposive sample of victims in Nepal. Specifically, subjects ranked the priority they accorded each type for tackling each of the four conflict dimensions. These responses were then translated into data worksheets and analysed, along with subjects' responses to the hypothesis, truth recovery can help me live more peacefully even in a situation where there is no possibility it may lead to justice in a court of law. Overall, the findings in both exercises confirmed the thesis' core observation of the limitations, from a victimological perspective, of the truth obtainable through judicial process; highlighted victims' basic need to have their voices and narratives heard and validated; and created a platform for using the typology - and growing it - in diverse situations in which victims battle suppression and subversion of the truth about their violation.
Jaar van publicatie:2020