Explaining the Timeliness of Implementation of Truth Commission Recommendations
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionin Journal of Peace Research vol. 59 no. 5 pp. 710-726 10.1177/002234332110570
Truth commissions are widely seen as important peacebuilding tools partially because they issue recommendations that seek to prompt further justice initiatives to address past abuses and promote institutional reforms that encourage non-repetition. Yet, despite growing interest in truth commissions among academics, policymakers, and activists, little attention has been paid to the recommendations that they outline in their final reports. In this article, we examine the factors that shape whether and when truth commission recommendations are enacted. Thus, we seek to explain not only whether recommendations are implemented, but also how quickly they are implemented. We use survival analysis to test the effects of a range of political and economic country-level variables, commission-specific qualities, and recommendation characteristics on the implementation record of nearly 700 recommendations formulated by ten Latin American truth commissions that operated between 1984 and 2014. The analysis yields interesting results, including that implementation proceeds more quickly in wealthier countries and when recommendations are issued by commissions created immediately after transitions, when the transitions occurred in which one side was victorious, and when commissions are created by an executive order. Moreover, recommendations that are directed towards the past are implemented more slowly than future-oriented measures.