Communication Strategies of Truth Commissions

A CAMECO panel at the fome 2022 symposium

The Forum Media and Development (fome)held its 2022 symposium from September 13-14 in Hamburg, Germany, on the issue of “Dealing with the Past – Preparing for the Future: Media Assistance in Conflict Mitigation, Reconciliation and Peacebuilding”.

CAMECO hosted the panel on “How to Communicate the Past – Practitioner Dialogue on Communication Strategies of Truth Commissions”.

The more than fifty truth commissions, set up since the 1990s, make these official, nonjudicial bodies one of the most deployed instruments at institutional level for dealing with the past. In a very limited amount of time and often with few resources, it is their task to determine what happened (facts), why it happened (causes) and which impact on life in society (consequences) the events had. This process consists of statement-taking, investigations, research, and public hearings. At the heart of this work is the goal of strengthening the representation of victims and making their voices heard to give them greater recognition in society.

Against this background and as part of a project for society as a whole, the work of truth commissions has to be continuously communicated to communities, the general public and political decision-makers. Cooperation with the media and journalists also requires forms of communication that are not random or arbitrary, but very strategic.

Three proven experts shared their experiences: Ricardo Corredor (Communication Coordinator of the Colombian Truth Commission); Refik Hodzik (Strategic Communications Specialist in the field of Transitional Justice, Bosnia-Herzegovina); and Baba Jallow (former Executive Secretary of Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission).

The panel discussion also contributed to the development of a toolkit on “Media Dealing with the Past”, which is expected to be published in the CAMECO Practice Series in the first half of 2023.