The recommendations made by truth commissions in their reports may arguably have bearings on how societies heal and develop after military rule or armed internal conflict – intersecting and overlapping with truth, justice and good governance concerns. More than thirty years after the first truth commissions in the Southern Cone launched their reports in the wake of transitions from military dictatorship to electoral democracy it is timely to take stock of what progress has been made in terms of implementing the recommendations made by these commissions.

In this paper, we present the results of a comparative, interdisciplinary research project that documents and traces the implementation record of 13 truth commissions’ recommendations in 11 Latin American countries from the early 1980s until today (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay). This paper takes stock of how, why, and which recommendations are in fact implemented – or not. The truth commission reports analysed vary hugely; from the one-page recommendations made by Argentina’s CONADEP report in 1985 to the more than hundred pages of recommendations made by the Peruvian truth commission in 2003. Dividing recommendations into seven main categories, this paper shows that some types of TCRs are more likely to be implemented than others. The paper also shows that how TCRs are formulated may have important implications for their ‘implementability’.

Elin Skaar

Senior Researcher, Coordinator: Rights and Legal Institutions