Redressing the colonial harm: framing historical commissions within transitional justice

Presentation by Cira-Palli Aspero at the 16th Biennial Meeting of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS): “Authoritarianism & Genocide: Narratives of Exclusion” from 10-14 July 2023, Barcelona, Spain

In panel: Interweaving transitional justice’s backward and forward-looking functions by formulating more concrete pathways of impact.

Former colonial powers are increasingly facing pressures to address issues of systemic racism, social injustice, and structural inequalities linked to their colonial past. In this context, we are witnessing an increased use of the transitional justice paradigm to think about historical injustice, with a rise of newly established historical commissions as a key step within processes of state redress of historical injustices. These commissions have, explicitly or implicitly, framed their work within the rhetoric of transitional justice. Nevertheless, it is not always clear to what extent the adoption of the transitional justice logic and rhetoric by these commissions also means that they inscribe themselves in the broader normative objectives of transitional justice as well as some of the core concepts of the paradigm. I examine the implications that this uncertainly has for the work of historical (truth) commissions and whether a more explicit engagement with concrete pathways of impact could remedy some of the existing shortfalls.

Date & Time

July 10, 2023



Organized by International Association of Genocide Scholars