The contemporary human rights movement holds up Nuremberg as a template with which to define responsibility for mass violence. I argue that the negotiations that ended apartheid—the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA)— provide the raw material for a critique of the “lessons of Nuremberg.” Whereas Nuremberg shaped a notion of justice as criminal justice, CODESA calls on us to think of justice as primarily political. CODESA shed the zero-sum logic of criminal justice for the inclusive nature of political justice. If the former accents victims’ justice, the latter prioritizes survivors’ justice. If Nuremberg has been ideologized as a paradigm, the end of apartheid has been exceptionalized as an improbable outcome produced by the exceptional personality of Nelson Mandela. This essay argues for the core relevance of the South African transition for ending civil wars in the rest of Africa.
The truth and reconciliation commission in South Africa: perspectives and prospects
Debate about the TRC has become necessary in South Africa today, 20 years since the final Report was handed over to government on 29 October 1998. Assessment of its efficacy and longer-term value is being undertaken, unfortunately, within an environment of intense disillusionment about the promise of constitutional democracy. This paper sets out the environment in which the TRC was established in 1996, its legal and constitutional frameworks, its achievements for creating a climate of reconciliation, for granting amnesty to perpetrators of human rights violations, and for setting a reparations framework. South Africans are conscious of grinding poverty and inequality, pervasive racism, and unfulfilled aspirations of the democratic settlement of 1994. What value, then was the TRC? This paper attempts a fair assessment, seeks to be honest about its grandiose claims, and undertakes a philosophical, political and ethical analysis of its achievements. Drawing on many studies on the TRC it seeks to chart a more rational course than some, noting that circumstances in Africa are such that the TRC is being revisited, The Gambia, for example, being the latest country that has introduced the TRC. Others may follow suit: Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, to name a few.
South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission: An Annotated Bibliography [circa 1993-2008]
‘The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission: An Annotated Bibliography’ is a much-needed reference work for those who are studying and pursuing the outcomes of Truth Commissions around the world. However, it is also a valuable tool for all researchers from diverse disciplines. For example, those specialising in the fields of sociology, political science, and literature will find material that appeals and is relevant to their areas of research. There is little doubt that students and researchers pursuing courses such as Conflict Resolution, Good Governance and International Relations would find this compilation more than beneficial since it covers not only an assortment of themes but it also includes ingenious cartoons by the famous Zapiro and memorable photographs by George Hallet. In addition, the compiler also inserted a select number of poems that dealt with the issues and themes related to the TRC process.