Truth Recovery and Transitional Justice
Deferring human rights issues
By Iosif Kovras
Routledge – 2014 – 240 pages
Series: Contemporary Security Studies
This book investigates why some societies defer transitional justice issues after successful democratic consolidation.
Despite democratisation, the exhumation of mass graves containing the victims from the violence in Cyprus (1963-1974) and the Spanish civil war (1936-1939) was delayed until the early 2000s, when both countries suddenly decided to revisit the past. Although this contradicts the actions of other countries such as South Africa, Bosnia, and Guatemala where truth recovery for disappeared/missing persons was a central element of the transition to peace and democracy, Cyprus and Spain are not alone: this is an increasing trend among countries trying to come to terms with past violence.
Truth Recovery and Transitional Justice considers the case studies of Spain and Cyprus and explores three interrelated issues. First, the book examines which factors can explain prolonged silence on the issue of missing persons in transitional settings. It then goes on to explore the transformation of victims’ groups from opponents of truth recovery to vocal pro-reconciliation pressure groups, and examines the circumstances in which it is better to tie victims’ rights to an overall political settlement. Finally, the author goes on to compare Spain and Cyprus with Greece- a country that remains resistant to post-transitional justice norms.
This book will be of interest to students of transitional justice, human rights, peace and conflict studies and security studies in general.
'This book poses incisive and provocative questions, providing critical insights to transitional justice literature. Its analysis of the various dynamics generated when dealing with the problem of enforced disappearances in different countries enriches this fascinating field by provinding systematic comparisons and analytic sophistication.' -- Paloma Aguilar Fernández, UNED, Madrid, Spain
'At a time when scholars and policy makers continue to grapple with the challenges of how best to deal with the troublesome legacies of past conflict, Iosif Kovras' exploration of the silences surrounding the missingpeople is particularly timely and welcome. Kovras systematically identifies the economic, legal, political and ideological factors contributing to support for or opposition to truth recovery. This book will be of immense value not only to scholars in the field, but to politicians, lawyers and policy makers, and those who are interested or involved in transitional justice and peacemaking.’-- Marie Breen-Smyth, University of Surrey, UK
1. Truth Recovery for Missing Persons and the Global Diffusion of ‘Truth' Part I: Prolonged Silences 2. Spain: The Persistence of the ‘Pact of Silence' 3. The Prevention of Truth Recovery for Missing Persons in Cyprus 4. Cases Compared: Hegemonic Silence and the ‘Linkage Trap’ Part II: Post-Transitional Justice 5. The Crumbling of the Pact of Silence in Spain 6. The Success Story of the Cyprus Problem 7. The Greek Puzzle 8. Cases Compared: Belated truth seekers and post-transitional justice 9. Conclusion ‘Unearthing the Truth’
Iosif Kovras is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University (Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies) and has a PhD from Queen’s University, Belfast.