n Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Climate change negotiations and transitional justice : the advent of a Carbon Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

Volume 48, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



Developing states, such as India and China, are reluctant to depart from their hard-lined stance on the common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities principle. They want to ensure that the historical responsibility of the developed world is addressed. The developed world is, however, reluctant to acknowledge its historical responsibility. At the core of this deadlock seems to be a lack of trust between parties. The current atmosphere of distrust amongst parties in the climate change negotiations may provide fertile ground for the application of transitional justice (TJ) mechanisms. TJ is well suited for a divisive environment, which is burdened with historical events that hamper further progress. This article investigates whether TJ models may be conducive to further progress in the climate change negotiations. Hence, the discussion focuses on a brief introduction of the notion of TJ; whereafter Truth Commissions are discussed in greater detail. The feasibility of an International Truth Commission concerning historical greenhouse gas emissions then receives attention. The authors conclude that the transposition of the Truth Commission model to the current will be problematic and that it is probable that the establishment of an 'International Carbon Truth Commission' will merely undermine climate change negotiations. However, the authors suggest that TJ offers lessons for climate change negotiators and that it is necessary to pursue elements of TJ through current climate change negotiations.

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