Latin American Experiences with Truth Commission Recommendations: Beyond Words Vol. II

Based on fieldwork unprecedented in scope, this project provides the first systematic study of the formulation and implementation of the recommendations of 13 Latin American truth commissions. Vol. II consists of 11 in-depth case studies from Latin America.
Elin Skaar, Eric Wiebelhaus-Brahm, Jemima Garcia-Godos
Series on Transitional Justice
book | published | 1st edition
March 2022 | xxiv + 524 pp.



ISBN 9781839701795

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ISBN 9781839702723

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Truth commission recommendations are critical to their legacies, yet there is little research examining their fates. Based on fieldwork that is unprecedented in scope, this two-volume project provides the first systematic study of the formulation and implementation of the recommendations of 13 Latin American truth commissions.

Beyond Words Vol. I examines the variations in truth commission recommendations across 13 Latin American cases. Insights are provided regarding how the internal dynamics of truth commissions, as well as the political, social and economic context in which they operate, influence how recommendations are formulated. The authors then explore how the nature of these recommendations themselves, along with the aforementioned factors, influence which recommendations are actually implemented. The conclusion considers the findings' relevance for the crafting of future truth commission recommendations and reflects upon how the formulation and implementation of these recommendations shape the impact of truth commissions on societies emerging from periods of violence and repression.

Beyond Words Vol. II is a unique collection of 11 Latin American country studies covering all 13 formal truth commissions established in this region that submitted their final reports between 1984 and 2014. Based on qualitative original data and a common analytical framework, the main focus of each of the country chapters is threefold: (1) to provide a brief background to the truth commission(s); (2) to provide a detailed account of the formulation of the truth commission's recommendations; and (3) to analyze the implementation record of the recommendations, taking into account the actors and factors that have aided – or obstructed – the implementation process.

ELIN SKAAR (Research Professor, Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), Bergen, Norway) works in the intersection between law and politics and has published widely on transitional justice, human rights, and courts.

ERIC WIEBELHAUS-BRAHM (Associate Professor, School of Public Affairs, University of Arkansas at Little Rock) is the author of three books and over two dozen articles and book chapters on transitional justice, human rights, and peacebuilding.

JEMIMA GARCÍA-GODOS (Professor, Dept. Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo) is a human geographer working and publishing on transitional justice, human rights, victims’ rights, and state-society relations.

Table of Contents

Table of contents and preliminary pages (p. 0)

Introduction (p. 1)


Argentina’s Pioneering CONADEP: A Lasting Human Rights Agenda (p. 27)

Chile’s Rettig and Valech Commissions: Truth and Reparation under the Sign of Reconciliation (p. 63)

Uruguay’s Commission for Peace: An Unfulfilled Experience? (p. 111)

Paraguay’s Truth and Justice Commission: Recommending Justice without Political Change (p. 139)

Brazil’s National Truth Commission: Recommendations for a Pending Democratic Agenda (p. 197)


Ecuador’s Truth Commission: Official Support, Weak Compliance (p. 233)

Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Recommending a Piecemeal Approach to Transitional Justice (p. 277)


El Salvador’s Truth Commission: Recommending Peace in Exchange for Justice (p. 317)

Guatemala’s Commission of Historical Clarification: The Memory of Silence or the Silence of Memory? (p. 373)

Haiti’s Truth and Justice Commission: Forgotten Recommendations, Living Demands (p. 409)

Panama’s Truth Commission Recommendations: Out of Sight, Out of Mind? (p. 451)

Conclusion (p. 485)

About the series:

Series on Transitional Justice

Countries emerging from long periods of authoritarian rule must often confront a legacy of gross human rights abuses perpetrated over many years. During the past two decades, these age-old issues have been termed “problems of transitional justice”, both by academics and policy makers around the world. Given the frequency with which these problems arise, as well as the complexity of the issues involved, it is striking that no book series has taken the issue of transitional justice as its point of focus.

The Series on Transitional Justice offers a platform for high-quality research within the rapidly growing field of transitional justice. This research is, of necessity, inter-disciplinary in nature, drawing from disciplines such as law, political science, history, sociology, criminology, anthropology and psychology, as well as from various specialised fields of study such as human rights, victimology and peace studies. It is furthermore international in outlook, drawing on the knowledge and experience of academics and other specialists in many different regions of the world.

The series is aimed at a variety of audiences who are either working or interested in fields such as crime and justice; human rights; humanitarian law and human security; conflict resolution and peace building. These audiences may include academics, researchers, students, policy makers, practitioners, non-governmental organisations and the media.

Editorial board:
- Prof. Stephan Parmentier (University of Leuven, Belgium)
- Prof. Jeremy Sarkin (NOVA University of Lisbon School of Law, Portugal) and
- Dr. Mina Rauschenbach (Université de Lausanne, Switzerland and University of Leuven, Belgium)

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