Truth and Reconciliation Commissions
Kal Raustiala writes and teaches in the areas of international law and international relations. He holds a joint appointment between the UCLA Law School and the UCLA International Institute, where he teaches in the Program on Global Studies. He is also director of the UCLA Ronald W. Burkle Center for International Relations (click here to read about this appointment). The Burkle Center is UCLA's primary academic unit that fosters interdisciplinary research and policy-oriented teaching on the role of the United States in global cooperation and conflict, and military, political, social and economic affairs.
Professor Raustiala's research focuses on international cooperation and conflict in areas such as environment, trade, armed conflict, dispute resolution, and intellectual property. Recent publications include "The Global Struggle Over Geographic Indications," European Journal of International Law (2007), "The Piracy Paradox: Innovation and Intellectual Property in Fashion Design" (with Chris Sprigman), Virginia Law Review (2006) and "Form and Substance in International Agreements", American Journal of International Law (2005), which won the 2005 Francis Deak Prize from the American Society of International Law. His current book about the extraterritorial reach of American law, Does the Constitution Follow the Flag?, will be published by Oxford University Press in May 2009.
Professor Raustiala has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School, Princeton University, and the University of Chicago Law School. Prior to coming to UCLA he was a research fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at The Brookings Institution, a Peccei Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems, and an assistant professor of politics at Brandeis University. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and editorial board of International Organization, he is a frequent media contributor whose writing has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the New Republic, the New Yorker, the International Herald Tribune and Le Monde.
Kal Raustiala: They worked well. There’s a good- I think a good example in South Africa. There are many other truth commissions out there-- South Africa is the most famous, in which they seem to have worked pretty well. South Africa is an amazing story of a country that completely transformed itself in a nonviolent way into again not a perfect society.
There’s a lot of bitterness, very understandable, but the truth and reconciliation process seems to have been fairly widely accepted. It has a certain advantage over trials, which is one other alternative, to have a kind of trial. And war crimes trials or other trials of that type are very costly. You can only kind of try a few people and so the appeal of truth and reconciliation is that it’s less legalistic, you can reach out to more-- There are many differences but it allows you to achieve reconciliation rather than simply a judgment. So that’s what I think it has. It has some real advantages but it’s not- it certainly has not been used everywhere, right, and so Saddam Hussein was tried by a national court. The International Criminal Court obviously takes a criminal justice model rather than the TRC had an amnesty process so if you confessed and you confessed fully and were perceived to have confessed fully you could be granted amnesty. That was controversial but that was an essential part of the vision. The International Criminal Court doesn’t do that. It’s a very different model. So I think it really-- It’s hard to say that there is a recipe. It depends on many different factors and I think we’re really in a learning process right now over the last 25 years. We’ve been experimenting with all of these different models, national courts, international courts, some kind of hybrid international, national, truth commissions, straight-up amnesties. Right. Some people say we should just grant an amnesty and like the- many of the Sub-Saharan African dictators they retire to the South of France, just let them go.
The relatively young field of transitional justice applies different strategies.
We are constantly trying to force the world to look like us — we need to move on.
- When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, many Americans jumped for joy. At the time, some believed there weren't going to be any more political disagreements anywhere in the world. They thought American democracy had won the "war of ideas."
- American exceptionalism has sought to create a world order that's really a mirror image of ourselves — a liberal world order founded on the DNA of American thinking. To many abroad this looks like ethnic chauvinism.
- We need to move on from this way of thinking, and consider that sometimes "problem-solving," in global affairs, means the world makes us look like how it wants to be.
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