Truth Commissions as Tactical Concessions: The Curious Case of Idi Amin
Source TitleThe International Journal of Human Rights
PublisherTaylor & Francis (Routledge)
University of Melbourne Author/sWinston, Carla
AffiliationSchool of Social and Political Sciences
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsWinston, C. (2021). Truth Commissions as Tactical Concessions: The Curious Case of Idi Amin. The International Journal of Human Rights, 25 (2), pp.251-273. https://doi.org/10.1080/13642987.2020.1773439.
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2022-07-01
Tactical concessions represent a critical juncture in the process of human rights change; depending on how they are used by autocrats or the opposition, they can either thwart or enable further improvements in human rights. This article argues that some truth commissions, traditionally examined with a transitional justice lens, should instead be considered as tactical concessions. In many ways, the two sets of theorised causal processes overlap significantly. By examining in detail Idi Amin’s 1974 Commission of Inquiry into Disappearances in Uganda – the world’s first (and mostly forgotten) truth commission – this paper explores the features of truth commissions which make them potential tactical concessions: sites of active contestation between those who wish to advance human rights and those who do not, both domestically and internationally. The Amin case provides compelling evidence for both sets of causal processes and offers additional insights into the roles of information control and institutional norms in the spiral model.
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