Truth Recovery and Justice after Conflict: Managing Violent Pasts, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Truth Recovery and Justice after Conflict

Managing Violent Pasts, 1st Edition

By Marie Breen Smyth


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This book considers the problem of managing the unfinished business of a violent past in societies moving out of political violence. Truth Commissions are increasingly used to unearth the acts committed by the various protagonists and to acknowledge the suffering of their victims. This book uniquely focuses on the conditions which predispose – or prevent – embarkation on a truth recovery process, and the rationale for that process. There is, it argues, no magic moment of ‘readiness’ for truth recovery: the conditions are constructed by political ‘willingness’ rather than spontaneously occurring.

Much of the literature on Northern Ireland’s past provides historical analyses of the conflict – Republican, state or Loyalist violence – and is often (implicitly or explicitly) associated with one or other of the partisans in the conflict. This book focuses on the dynamic between the protagonists and how each of their positions, in this case on truth recovery, combine to produce the overall political status quo in Northern Ireland. As the society struggles to move forward, Marie Breen Smyth considers whether the entrenched positions of some, and the failure understand the views of others, can be shifted by a societal revisiting and re-evaluation of the past.

Truth Recovery and Justice after Conflict arises from a decade’s writing and research with both victims and those close to the armed groups in Northern Ireland. It is also informed by the author’s work in South Africa, West Africa, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It will be of great interest to students and researchers in politics, international relations, peace studies and law.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. The Function of Truth Recovery in Transitional Societies 3. Truth and Cultures of Organised and Normalised Lying 4. Shame, Honour and Cultures of Violence and Peace 5. Victims, Healing, Forgiveness and Truth Case Study 6. Framing the Grievances of the Past: Northern Ireland since the Belfast Agreement 7. Readiness for Truth: The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Inquiry 8. Is Northern Ireland Ready for Truth? 9. Conclusions: Truth Recovery and Post Conflict Reconstruction

About the Author

Marie Breen Smyth is Reader in the Department of International Politics, University of Wales, Aberystwyth; and Director of the Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Contemporary Political Violence (CSRV). She has edited five volumes and written a number of books, including Northern Ireland’s Troubles: The Human Costs (with Mike Morrissey).

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution

The field of peace and conflict research has grown enormously as an academic pursuit in recent years, gaining credibility and relevance amongst policy makers and in the international humanitarian and NGO sector. The Routledge Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution series aims to provide an outlet for some of the most significant new work emerging from this academic community, and to establish itself as a leading platform for innovative work at the point where peace and conflict research impacts on International Relations theory and processes.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Civil Rights