Truth commissions are established to research and report on abuses of human rights and humanitarian law over a particular period of time in a specific country, or in relation to a particular conflict. Truth commissions are diverse and their mandates are often adapted to the specific needs of the society. Typically they are convened temporarily in order to allow victims, their relatives and perpetrators to give evidence of human rights abuses or other criminal transgressions, providing an official forum for their accounts. In most instances, truth commissions are also required to provide recommendations on steps to prevent a recurrence of past abuses. They are created, vested with authority, sponsored, and/or funded by the government of the country.
Truth commissions are non-judicial bodies, but in some cases are granted the ability to refer case information to the courts or tribunals. Generally, the recommendations of a commission push for reforms within the government and other social structures that perpetuated abuse. Recommendations may also advocate for reparation to victims, propose memorialization efforts and reconciliation plans, and implicate the bodies or groups most responsible for any abuses committed. In some cases individual perpetrators may be named. In some instances, commissions have been forced to end their mandates prematurely due to political opposition or lack of funding. List is derived from the United States Institute of Peace directory of commissions.
Closely related to truth commissions are commissions of inquiry. Compared to truth commissions, commissions of inquiry have a more limited scope. Their investigations may for instance be limited to specific events, or specific geographic areas of a country. List is derived from the United States Institute of Peace directory of commissions of inquiry.