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National Truth and Reconciliation Commissions

Truth and Reconciliation Commissions have been established by governments whose states were emerging from internal unrest.  In this case, it is the task of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (or TRC) to resolve the crimes and injustices committed during a civil war, dictatorship, or other situation of collectively inflicted and experienced trauma.  To date, over twenty countries have utilized a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).  One of the most famous of these was commissioned under Nelson Mandela in South Africa in 1995 in the aftermath of Apartheid.  

The United States

The United States federal government has never made use of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, although some have suggested that a TRC be created to address the United States' role in Iraq or in foreign policy.  The United States' first ever Truth and Reconciliation Commission was initiated locally in Greensboro, NC, in 2005 to address a 1979 massacre of five organizers of black industrial workers by members of the KKK and American Nazi Party.


On June 1, 2008, Canada formally established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to help heal the injustice and hurt caused by Indian Residential Schools.  The 5-year TRC is tasked with preparing a historical record on the policies and operations of the schools, making recommendations to the Canadian government concerning the Indian Residential School system and its legacy, and hosting seven national events to promote awareness about the Indian Residential School system and its impacts.  On June 11, 2008, Canadian Prime Minister offered a formal apology to former students of Indian residential schools, saying, "Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country."

For more information about Canada's TRC, see:


To learn about TRCs around the world, check out the United States Institute of Peace's Truth Commissions Digital Collection.

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Last updated on Tuesday, August 23, 2011.

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