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The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 19, 1999

Audrey R. Chapman
Pages 235-258
DOI: 10.5840/asce19991913

Coming to Terms with the Past
Truth, Justice, and/or Reconciliation

This paper explores one of the major issues before transitional societies, the balance among truth, justice, and/or reconciliation. It focusses on the role of truth commissions, with an emphasis on the experience of South Africa. A central thesis of the paper is that establishing a shared truth that documents the causes, nature, and extent of severe and gross human rights abuses and/or collective violence under antecedent regimes is a prerequisite for achieving accountability, meaningful reconciliation, and a foundation for a common future. It develops and applies an approach to reconciliation based on and extending Donald Shriver's concept of "political forgiveness."

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