(Im)Possibilities of a comparative approach to transitional justice

The Cape Town Holocaust & Genocide Centre presents a discussion forum

In 2018, Taiwan installed a Transitional Justice Commission to deal with its authoritarian past. 

To gain a better understanding of different approaches which could be applied domestically, Taiwanese scholars consulted the experiences of countries such as Chile and Argentina, Japan and Korea, Germany, South Africa and many other democracies that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

Within this comparative research, Germany and South Africa stood out as having executed two possible yet very different models of coming to terms with their own past. However, when one compares the internal discourse in the respective countries with the reception of both models in Taiwan, one can discern some considerable differences.

This forum seeks to explore how the German experience of ‘coming to terms with the past’ and the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission are evaluated inside and outside the respective countries through comparison. How are democracies that undergo the process of transitional justice relying on the experience of Germany and South Africa to deal with their own past? Are there differences in how these experiences are evaluated inside and outside the countries? How does an incomplete, distorted, or biased reception of the German and South African experience reflect in the domestic implementation of Transitional Justice policies in other countries? And what does this mean for comparative approaches to Transitional Justice research in general? These are some common themes which could be explored.

The discussions are set to take place once a week, starting from Wednesday, 15 June until 6 July from 1pm 2:30pm SAST. The first three events are dedicated to the three respective countries. During the first roundtable, Taiwanese scholars will discuss the current state of Transitional Justice in Taiwan. During the second and third sessions, a Taiwanese scholar will moderate the discussion with experts in the field of Germany and South Africa. The last discussion serves as a wrap-up where common themes will be explored, and open questions can be re-addressed.

Preliminary timetable

15 June ‘The current state of Transitional Justice in Taiwan’
22 June ‘Coming to terms with the TRC’
29 June ‘Is there a consensus on the history of the Holocaust?’
6 July ‘Exploring common themes’

This event will be online and free of charge. Advance registration is required. For more information, go to https://ctholocaust.co.za/events

• Published in the PDF edition of the June 2022 issue – Click here to read it.

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