Book launch: Truth Commissions. Memory, Power, and Legitimacy

Date: Tuesday 12 September

Time: 8:30-09:30.

Welcome to the launch of the award-winning book by Onur Bakiner (Seattle University) on the role truth commissions play in contemporary societies. Introductions by Elin Skaar (Chr. Michelsen Institute).

At the launch Bakiner, currently visiting scholar at Chr. Michelsen Institute, will present his book Truth Commissions. Memory, Power, and Legitimacy. The book recently received the Best Book Award by the Human Rights section at the American Political Science Association (APSA). In this book, Onur Bakiner evaluates the success of truth commissions in promoting policy reform, human rights accountability, and the public recognition of human rights violations. He argues that even when commissions produce only modest change, they open up new avenues for human rights activism.

The launch is hosted by the Centre on Law & Social Transformation in collaboration with the Rights and Institution cluster at CMI. It is free and open to all. Coffee and croissants will be served.

For more information about the author and the book see



“Onur Bakiner has written a first-rate book that speaks to concerns and debates among students of transitional justice, qualitative methodologists and ethical-normative theorists. Moving well beyond the illuminating—but highly limited—descriptive literature on truth commissions, Bakiner develops a broader argument that captures their operation and impact, highlighting the politics at play. The argument is then tested in a series of narratives that are not only well written, but methodologically self-aware—a rare combination. For all the talk of ‘mechanisms’ and ‘process tracing,’ it is refreshing to read a book where they are analytic tools doing real work.”—Jeffrey T. Checkel, Simon Fraser University

Truth Commissions is a wonderful contribution to the increasingly robust scholarship on transitional justice. It brings a fresh perspective on why truth commissions are formed, how they operate under domestic political constraints, and what—if anything—their impact is on post-conflict societies. Through a detailed study of dozens of truth commissions around the world, Onur Bakiner carefully considers not only the pragmatic aspects of truth commissions, but also their ethical and normative impact on societies coming to terms with legacies of mass violence.”—Jelena Subotic, author of Hijacked Justice: Dealing with the Past in the Balkans

Truth Commissions makes an important contribution to scholarship on truth commissions, as well as scholarship on memory politics. It offers an original and compelling argument regarding the role and influence of truth commissions and a useful set of conceptual tools for framing analyses of truth commissions.”—Bronwyn Anne Leebaw, University of California, Riverside


Photo description: Cover photo of the book Truth Commissions: Memory, Power and Legitimacy. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016.