Dealing with our violent past. Should Historical Clarification Commissions be understood as cases of transitional justice?

01 November 2021 → 31 October 2024
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Public history
  • Social sciences
    • Other law and legal studies not elsewhere classified
Historical Clarification Commissions Legacies of the past Transitional justice Consolidated Democracies
Project description

Consolidated democracies are increasingly facing pressures to come to terms with their violent pasts. Faced with this burden, stakeholders are increasingly looking for ways to move from dominant and oppressive narratives about the past towards spaces for contestation and competing narratives. The establishment of Historical Clarification Commissions, as well as the invocation of transitional justice rhetoric have taken flight in consolidated democracies. But not all HCCs are instances of transitional justice and framing them as such is not without consequences, which are ill-understood and under-studied. This project examines the unforeseen and unintended effects of framing HCCs, like the Parliamentary Commission on Belgium’s colonial legacy, as transitional justice. The project adopts a mixed-method research consisting of desk-based research, database construction, and an in-depth analysis of a case study through empirical research and semi-structured interviews. The implications of this research are substantial. The overreliance on the adoption of transitional justice language impacts and conditions the way in which consolidated democracies approach the processes of inquiry into the past, but we do not have a good understanding of the implications thereof. The relationship between transitional justice and HCCs has not systematically been explored. This is becoming increasingly important as consolidated democracies are the new frontier of transitional justice.