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International Tribunal Courts, Truth Commissions, and Reparations Commissions

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I. Introduction
No one can possibly deny or ignore the overwhelming amount of mass atrocities that took place during the twentieth century. From the “Great Purge” orchestrated by Stalin in the former Soviet Union to the Holocaust of World War II led by the Nazis, South Africa’s apartheid, Argentina’s “Dirty War”, and the tactics of terror, repression, and torture used by many military regimes, not to mention Rwanda’s Genocide (Minow, 1998, p. 1). More surprisingly, these unspeakable and horrifying events took place during the past century. However, such unforgettable atrocities helped to raise consciousness among the international community, which led to the formation of needed international norms to protect, avoid, and prevent similar atrocities from ever happening again. In addition, several mechanisms were developed by the international community with the finality to repair, reconcile, and prosecute perpetrators. Such mechanisms include International Tribunals, Truth Commissions, Reparations, among others (Minow, 1998). But, how successful have these mechanisms been at achieving such intended goals? Professor Minow provides a compelling answer to this question in her book titled “Between Vengeance and Forgiveness”. Minow explores the formal responses of some nations to mass atrocities and argues that the acknowledgment of past event is of vital importance in the process of forgiveness, reconciliation, and reconstruction of a society as whole. In addition to that, she notes the importance of Truth Commission, International Tribunals, and Reparations for past damages. Nevertheless, she recognizes that such mechanisms have limitations that might, in some cases, hinder a nation’s healing process. Thus, the author concludes that ...


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...logical change. However, such reconciliation cannot emerge without a truthful acknowledgement of past events that permit victims to get closure as well as a shared vision of the future. Additionally, the reconciliation and the healing process of a society entail forgiveness that can only be granted by the victim himself. But what if a society is not ready to forgive or let go of the past? The unwillingness of a society as a whole to forgive hinders the process of reconciliation. In the absence of this willingness to forgive, truth commission could become compromised, reluctant, or simply turned into merely platforms to criticize old regimes. Chile, Uganda, and Chad are some examples where truth commissions were less effective in achieving their intended purpose of reconciliation due to the unwillingness of the society to forgive past actions (Avruch, 2010, p.35).



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