Truth Commissions and Transitional Justice


Prof. Kelly Zvobgo pictured
Kelebogile Zvobgo is incoming Assistant Professor of Government at William & Mary and Founder and Director of its International Justice Lab. Zvobgo’s research focuses on quasi-judicial bodies that have proliferated across the globe to fill the gaps left by domestic and international law and courts. Her work on such accountability mechanisms has extended to truth commissions and international development banks' compliance mechanisms.

Professor Zvobgo’s Young Initiative-sponsored talk asked a simple yet important question: do truth commissions advance transitional justice? Zvobgo began her discussion by defining what transitional justice is: judicial and non-judicial measures taken to address human rights abuses based on four pillars— truth, justice, reparations, and the guarantee of non-recurrence.  She emphasized that truth commissions are about developing a comprehensive understanding of the past -- what happened and why – as the basis for states taking responsibility for human rights abuses and making reparations. Zvobgo suggests that state-societies of all sorts, including established democracies, can benefit from truth telling processes as the basis for moving beyond past wrongs and building more just, equitable societies.

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