‘A Showpiece Gesture’: Strategic Legitimation and Commissions of Inquiry in Sri Lanka

AJP title imageby Moira Lynch, Asian Journal of Peacebuilding, Seoul, Korea, Vol.11, No.2, 2023

The Sri Lankan government implemented commissions of inquiry between 1977 and 2010. Though several commissions of inquiry produced comprehensive accounts of the violence in Sri Lanka’s civil war, and offered thorough recommendations, they rarely resulted in policy reforms or accountability. What motivated successive administrations in Sri Lanka to hold truth-seeking measures throughout the war? Building on theories concerning the alternative objectives of justice, this article argues that the commissions of inquiry in Sri Lanka were created by the government as strategies of legitimation. Drawing on empirical evidence from fourteen distinct commissions, the article discusses four strategies of legitimation, the impact of these strategies, and the implications of this case for future research on justice processes conducted during civil war.
Keywords truth commissions, commissions of inquiry, Sri Lanka, justice, civil war

A Showpiece Gesture Moira Lynch 2023

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