International justice is characterized by the global articulation of basic human rights and peremptory norms outlawing crimes against humanity. In the twenty-first century, an international obligation of states to pursue individuals who bear responsibility for gross violations of human rights has formalized. Since the 1999 independence referendum, Timor-Leste has struggled to achieve substantive justice for the human rights violations committed during Indonesia’s 25-year de facto administration. Timor-Leste provides a unique case study on the international dimensions of pursuing justice in a post-conflict transitional context, particularly as many alleged perpetrators of rights violations have been shielded by Indonesia. This presents a challenge for Timor-Leste in balancing its various international and domestic priorities: while domestic political order and rule of law necessitates the pursuit of substantive justice, Timor-Leste’s external security interests require a positive relationship with Indonesia. This article examines the world’s first bilateral Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Indonesia-Timor-Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship. It then analyses the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations by Indonesia and Timor-Leste. The paper argues that the Commission was primarily a political mechanism designed to support international priorities rather than substantive justice.


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pp. 232-261
Launched on MUSE
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