Beginning the Healing Process
Beginning the Healing Process: Canada's Participation in the Honduran Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Author: Gordon Evans
Year: 2014

The international community swiftly condemned the military coup that deposed the Honduran President in June 2009. Although the de facto government formed after the coup only lasted until the next scheduled election in November, Honduras did not return to diplomatic normalcy for another two years. Meanwhile, the deep political, social and economic divisions that underpinned the crisis remained largely in place. To determine what actually happened in June 2009 and identify a way forward for the country, the newly-elected President established the five-member Honduran Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in April 2010. The Commission comprised two Honduran and three international members, including Michael Kergin, former Canadian ambassador to the United States and Cuba. In just over a year, the TRC travelled to all eighteen Honduran provinces, held over three hundred meetings, and received testimony from one-hundred and fifty-five political, judicial, military, and legislative figures linked to the events. Its final report, titled 'So That These Events Will Never Reoccur,' was released in July 2011. This case study examines how the Commission, facing significant skepticism concerning its mandate, reached out to its critics, dealt directly with the highly-charged issue of human rights violations and crafted a balanced, well-received set of recommendations. The Honduran experience described below is rich in lessons learned and provides some critical insights on the effective use of truth and reconciliation commissions as a catalyst to begin the healing process in conflict-affected nations.