Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Sharon F. Lean





December 2014

Advisor: Dr. Sharon Lean

Major: Political Science

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy

Every year millions of dollars are spent on Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRC) designed to bring about post-conflict resolutions in states through a formal process. This paper explores the major TRCs comparatively to assess the relationship between TRCs and the growth of democracy and rule of law in post conflict societies and compares that performance to a control group of states that experienced a conflict but did not conduct a TRC. Seventy-seven TRCs have been conducted or were seriously proposed since 1971. All TRCs assert as part of their charter that their goals include the growth of democratic ideals and rule of law. There has been little quantitative study of this relationship and qualitative studies focus primarily on single state case studies rather than looking comparatively. This dissertation hypothesizes that there is a relationship between conducting a TRC and the growth of democracy and rule of law in post-conflict states. In order to test this hypothesis, data from the forty one TRCs conducted and concluded between 1981 and 2010 was analyzed, as well as data from post-conflict states where a TRC was not conducted. Polity IV data regarding democracy and CIRI data regarding the rule of law was utilized to determine changes in democracy and the rule of law. A case study was also concluded of Liberia, a state which conducted a TRC and Mozambique, a state which did not but did issue a general amnesty to look at the issues of democracy and rule of law most intensively. This paper concludes that post conflict states conducting TRCs have a greater improvement in democracy and rule of law than states that did not utilize a TRC and the relationship is significant statistically. The relationship is less when the conflict was an intense conflict involving more than one thousand battle deaths and is improved when an amnesty is given along with the TRC. The relationship provides a small portion of the explanation for change in democracy but when coupled with democracy scores provides almost one half of the explanation of change in rule of law but is also lower if the conflict has been intense in terms of battle deaths. Lastly, it concludes that the experience in Liberia with their TRC is too recent to show a relationship but that Mozambique, which utilized only an amnesty, is starting to experience deterioration in the levels of democracy and rule of law.