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Bridging the Chasm: Reconciliation's Needed Implementation Fourth Step

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Title: Bridging the Chasm: Reconciliation's Needed Implementation Fourth Step
Authors: Yamamoto, Eric K.
Pettit-Toledo, Miyoko
Sheffield, Sarah
Keywords: social justice
social healing
social healing through justice
show 13 morerecognition
truth seeking
criminal prosecution
human rights
reparative justice
transitional justice
victim storytelling

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Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Seattle Journal for Social Justice
Citation: Yamamoto, E. Bridging the Chasm: Reconciliation's Needed Implementation Fourth Step. Seattle Journal for Social Justice. 109-191.
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Abstract: We live in an “Age of Reconciliation.” In recent years governments and populaces in the United States and countries worldwide embarked on major reconciliation initiatives to heal the persisting wounds of historic injustices. With an emphasis on personal and societal benefits of victim storytelling, perpetrator apologies, compensatory or symbolic payments, institutional reordering and public education, reconciliation initiatives emerged on the political agendas of both established and transitioning democracies. Acknowledging and repairing the damage of grievous transgressions signaled commitments to human rights and reparative justice. And it illuminated the high aspirations and moral tenor of civil societies. Yet, despite those aspirations and commitments, reconciliation initiatives stall. Genuine social healing awaits. As eloquently recited by the National Survivors Network in its 2015 petition to the Kenyan National Assembly, the “lack of a framework for implementing the recommendations of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission” has “huge repercussions on the lives of [thousands of] victims who bear the scars of past serious human rights abuses.” The failure of follow-through action on the commission’s reparative directives “under[cuts] victims’ ability to obtain closure and restart their lives.” Why, then, despite investments of time, energy and money, is there a far-too-often failure to follow through and implement truth commission reparative recommendations? More fundamentally, why is there still a lack of a workable implementation framework? At bottom, how do we, as members of civil societies, bridge the chasm between aspiration and realization? As developed in this article, a truth commission is a key piece, but only a piece, of a reconciliation initiative. Because implementation of final report recommendations “results from a convergence of factors, some informed by political will, it is illusory to assume” that governments and communities automatically will follow through. Reconciliation policymakers, scholars and advocates thus need, and are searching for, a cogent “next step” framework for assessing and refashioning troubled reconciliation initiatives. With realpolitik influences in mind, to facilitate recalibration and rejuvenation, this article suggests remaking a key part of the prevailing reconciliation template – a new formalized fourth step in the truth and reconciliation process to bridge the chasm between social healing aspiration and realization. This proposed fourth step is an independent yet politically attuned follow-up body created to assess and update existing recommendations, to implement outstanding recommendations and to refashion and oversee future reconstructive and reparative actions to further comprehensive and enduring social healing – an “assessment, implementation and oversight Task Force” comprised of all key stakeholders. This article fully describes and critiques this proposed implementation and recalibration fourth step and illuminates its potential operations with partial case studies of initiatives in South Korea, South Africa and Peru.
Pages/Duration: 83 pages
Appears in Collections:Yamamoto, Eric K.

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