The International Journal of Restorative Justice


Can Indigenous truth commissions overcome the legacies and contemporary effects of colonialism?

A study on the Australian-Canadian experience to explore possible paths in Argentina

Keywords restoratrive justice, transitional justice, truth commission, Canada, Australia, Argentina
Authors Valeria Vegh Weis en Chris Cunneen
Author's information

Valeria Vegh Weis
Valeria Vegh Weis is Research Fellow at the University of Konstanz, Germany.

Chris Cunneen
Chris Cunneen is Professor of Criminology at the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, University of Technology Sydney, Australia. Corresponding author: Valeria Vegh Weis at The authors thank the reviewers for their insightful, respectful and thought-provoking comments.
  • Abstract

      While restorative justice has been extensively growing in democratic settings, less explored is its connection with transitional justice or, in other words, there have been insufficient attempts to explore the possibility of applying restorative justice mechanisms in countries dealing with the aftermath of mass violence. Seeking to fill this gap, this article addresses the connections between transitional justice and Indigenous demands. Particularly, the study focuses on the role of truth commissions as a restorative justice mechanism with the potential of creating a new narrative on human rights violations (or a ‘narrative turn’). The article then analyses the experience of Indigenous truth commissions in Australia and Canada, considering them within their political contexts and providing a critical analysis of the results. Finally, the study analyses the Argentinean case and the possibility for a truth commission to uncover the legacy of human rights violations against Indigenous communities. It also considers how the comparative experience assists in assessing the pertinence of having a truth commission in Argentina. Altogether, the article aims to explore the role of truth commissions, applied through a decolonial, transformative and actor-centred perspective, and their potential to challenge the narratives that have largely legitimised or denied harms against Indigenous peoples.

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