Seeking the truth about serious international human rights and humanitarian law violations : the various facets of a cardinal notion of transitional justice
Armed conflict and international law : in search of the human face : liber amicorum in memory of Avril McDonald
The Hague : T.M.C. Asser Press, 2013
Bibliographie : p. 323-325
The notion of truth and the search for it constitute central tenets of transitional justice processes and mechanisms in societies recovering from an armed conflict or from a period of large-scale human rights abuses. Truth lies at the heart of human nature, when victims of international human rights and humanitarian law violations want to know what happened. However, to date, the concept of truth seems to have suffered from the many assumptions that shape the emerging field of transitional justice. The most common of those is that truth should necessarily bring about reconciliation. Similarly the notion of truth would be a straightforward and simple concept. It is only recently that experts and scholars have begun to question such assumptions. Against this backdrop, this chapter therefore intends to go beyond the often oversimplified notion of truth in transitional justice. It seeks to explore some of the various and complex dimensions of the truth to better understand tensions that may exist when, for example, efforts favour the collective dimension of truth for a whole society over the needs of victims as individuals. This chapter then reviews to what extent some of the transitional justice mechanisms contribute to ascertaining the truth in its full complexity. Ultimately in as much as transitional justice requires a combination of mechanisms and processes to achieve its goals, this chapter will show that considering the many facets of the truth about past abuses is critical to ensure victims' rights are respected.