Field Report Seminar: A Comparative Assessment of National Reconciliation Commissions in Nigeria and South Africa

IAS/IFRA Field Report Lectures for PhD students

Date: February 22, 2012
Place: Drapper’s Hall, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan
Time: 2.00-4.00 pm

 In the framework of the IAS/IFRA-Nigeria Field Report Seminar, we receive Mr. Adeola Adams. He is a graduate of Political Science from the University of Ibadan and has a Masters in Peace & Conflict Studies. He is currently finishing a Ph.D. at the Institute of African Studies of the University of Ibadan. Mr. Adams is coordinating IFRA Research Fellows. He is also Oyo State Coordinator for the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC) and Acting Chairman, Society for Peace Studies and Practice (SPSP) Oyo State. In 2011, he benefitted from an IFRA-Nigeria field research grant.

Abstract of the presentation

The Nigerian approach to national reconciliation left much to be desired. The Human Right Violation Investigation Commission (HRVIC) did not convincingly treat the process of reconciliation. Although the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was not without its own challenges, the study shows that its philosophy significantly and positively impacted on processes of reconciliation and their outcomes. Truth commissions must therefore be built on a sound philosophical foundation that emits cogent virtues such as wide consultation, parliamentary approval, reparations for victims and amnesty for perpetrators of human rights abuses. Furthermore, any effort at making truth commissions effective must seek to revitalize the culture of popular participation, adequate funding and good staffing, solid physical structures and therapeutic processes as captured by the TRC. The International Community and the civil society groups also have important roles to play in lending necessary support to local initiatives in order to make the work of truth commissions succeed. The combination of these critical factors will provide the recipe for true reconciliation in any post-conflict or post-authoritarian context. The South African TRC presents important lessons for Nigeria and other nations that may wish to embark on similar exercises in the future

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