“What Will You Do with Our Stories?” Truth and Reconciliation in the Solomon Islands
AbstractThe Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was the first TRC in the Pacific Islands. Its goals and activities – truth-seeking, reconciliation and the production of a report with a narrative of the conflict that focused on human rights violations – reflect the normative values of global transitional justice discourses. In this paper I draw on interviews with former staff of the TRC and my own experiences of working for the TRC to explore the implications of importing international transitional justice mechanisms into the local Solomon Islands context, and to draw attention to the cultural limitations of truth-telling. I argue that in order for peacebuilding tools to be effective in Solomon Islands, a strong commitment to, and understanding of, local context is required; transitional justice mechanisms must resonate with local understandings and practices of conflict resolution and peacemaking. The TRC has the potential to play a positive role in building peace in Solomon Islands if it is viewed as a component of an ongoing process.Truth and memory alone will not bring about justice, reconciliation or peace; the memories and truths that are collected and produced by the TRC ought to be used for future action, addressing ongoing injustices and grievances.
Focus: Violence, Justice, and the Work of Memory
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