Trust In Reconciliation: How Political Violence Affects Institutional Trust, Rooya Rahin, UG '23 (3963731)
Nearly three decades after the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), it is still considered by most scholars to be the most successful case of a truth commission, as well as the “most ambitious” case to date. However, the process was not perfect. Some individuals and families who participated in the process later questioned its legitimacy and expressed doubts with the results, and scholarship on the Commission’s effectiveness is mixed. My research seeks to understand how and why this process, which was so internationally lauded, was not trusted by all. Utilizing data from a representative survey in South Africa in 2001, as well as from the official Truth and Reconciliation Commission Reports, I found that those who identified as being personally harmed by apartheid expressed greater trust in the TRC. However, when integrating regional data on reports of violence from the TRC official report, I found that overall, regions with higher levels of regional violence expressed less trust in the TRC. The movement of these variables in different directions can be accounted for by the different purposes served by the TRC, such as closure, but deserve further research. This research is important because it can increase understanding of how communities in a post-conflict society interact with transitional institutions such as the TRC, which can guide the development of future transitional justice institutions, especially after major human rights violations.