What is a Truth Commission and Why Does it Matter?

There is a growing body of comparative research that seeks to produce empirical evidence and, thereby, contribute to policy debates on the relative merits of truth commissions. However, these efforts have been plagued by a lack of attention to case selection. The lack of consensus on what constitutes the universe of truth commission cases has contributed to a pattern of inconclusive, inconsistent findings. This article reviews the empirical literature, finds more than 70 potential truth commission cases, and makes recommendations for advancing research in the field.