And the truth shall make you free : the international norm of truth-seeking
Author(s)Ben-Josef Hirsch, Michal
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
Stephen Van Evera.
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The theoretical question this dissertation addresses is how do international norms emerge and spread. The theory I propose focuses on changes in the ideational content of norms and on the international agents who facilitate these changes. In the norm emergence stage, the theory's first explanatory variable is a successful precedent, which provides an important point of reference for the ideas associated with the practice. The second explanatory variable is an active epistemic community, which is a committed network of professionals who are strongly attached to the practice and to its rationales, and who actively advance the practice. The third variable is change in the content of the norm, which reflects the assessment of why a specific practice is positive or good and what is it good for or for whom. In the norm cascading stage, the theory proposes two necessary processes: the international institutionalization of the practice; and the emergence of new international expectations and incentives that motivate state leaders to act in accordance with the norm. In the dissertation I utilize my theory to explain the worldwide proliferation of truth and reconciliation commissions. I argue that in the last decade truth and reconciliation commissions and the truth-seeking principle they endorse have emerged and become institutionalized as an international norm. My research traces the emergence of this norm to the Transitional Justice epistemic community, which was consolidated during and after the South African TRC.(cont.) I demonstrate that members of this epistemic community introduced new ideas about the scope and goals of truth-seeking, particularly the framing of the positive link between truth commissions and democratization, reconciliation, and national healing. These "truth-seeking experts" and their professional activities account for the international spread of these ideas. This spread has created a new environment of international expectations. Accordingly, states have increasingly been motivated to have their own truth commissions in order to establish a benign image and gain international prestige and legitimacy.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 2009.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 294-325).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology