The Transnationalization of Truth: A Meditation on Sri Lanka and Honduras

Craig Scott, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University


The present article is an elaboration of the text prepared for a lecture, delivered in London, England, on Tuesday, October 19, 2010, as part of the Centre for Transnational Legal Studies’ annual Transnational Justice Lecture series. The paper begins, in Section II, with general comments on a notion of “interactive diversity of knowledge” and how that connects up to a view about the nature of truth. Sections III and IV then present salient aspects of events in both Honduras and Sri Lanka over the last two years, with the coup d’ état of 28 June 2009, in Honduras and the bloody end to the civil war in Sri Lanka in spring 2009 as fulcrums of the narrative. In each case, emphasis is also placed on the establishment of truth-related commissions or panels in relation to each country. The paper ends with a discussion of three interconnected quandaries—the inside/outside quandary; the consistency and fairness quandary; and the timing quandary. The timing (or staging) quandary offers some provisional thinking on the sequencing of processes related to truth, justice and reconciliation, offering some reasons not to fuse truth-seeking processes with either criminal justice or reconciliation processes—with special reference to the Sri Lanka context.