In 1990, after the end of the Pinochet regime, the newly elected democratic government of Chile established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to investigate and report on some of the worst human rights violations committed under the seventeen-year military dictatorship. The Chilean TRC was one of the first truth commissions established in the world. This book responds to an important challenge in the field of transitional justice to offer more long-term studies of the impact of national truth commissions. The book examines whether and how the work of the Chilean TRC contributed to the transition to democracy in Chile, and to subsequent developments in accountability and transformation in that country. The book takes a long-term view on the Chilean TRC, asking to what extent and how the truth commission contributed to the development of the transitional justice measures that ensued, and how the relationship with those subsequent developments was established over time. It argues that, contrary to the views and expectations of those who considered that the Chilean TRC was of limited success, the Chilean TRC has, over the longer term, played a key role as an enabler of justice and a means by which ethical and institutional transformation has occurred within Chile. With the benefit of this historical perspective, the book concludes that the impact of truth commissions in general needs to be carefully reviewed in light of the Chilean experience.


Anita Ferrara has recently founded the Centre for Transitional Justice and Development (CTJD), in Rome. She obtained a PhD in Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, in 2012. She has been a Graduate Teaching Assistant at SOAS and has given several lectures for the SOAS MA/LLM Course on “Justice, Reconciliation and Reconstruction in Post-Conflicts Societies”. She has previously worked for United Nations Agencies as OHCHR and UNDP, in the fields of Human Rights and Governance, in Chile and Botswana.

Professor Leigh Payne is the Director of the Centre for Latin American Studies, Oxford.