Ambassador Kosnett’s Remarks for Truth and Reconciliation Commission Preparatory Team Event

Ambassador Kosnett’s Remarks for Truth and Reconciliation Commission Preparatory Team Event, March 4, 2020

Good morning Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests.  It is a privilege to be here today for this early milestone in the truth and reconciliation process.

The U.S. Embassy has supported the TRC Prep Team’s work since its inception, and we are pleased to have funded this public perception survey.  Similar commissions in other post-conflict countries have been beneficial, first, by providing some measure of closure for victims’ families, and secondly by creating a solid foundation for future interethnic reconciliation. The work of a truth and reconciliation commission is a grave responsibility:  a duty to those who were lost, to those who remember them, and to generations yet unborn.

Reconciliation means different things to different people.  The definition I have in mind refers to engaging honestly about the past in order to build a common future.

So, we support the work of the TRC Prep Team, but with the understanding the Team will continue to operate with integrity and objectivity, and without a political agenda.  To be successful, the TRC will need to remain victim-centered and inclusive.  The stories of all victims, from all Kosovo’s communities must be heard.

The commissions in both East Timor and South Africa have shown the way in this.  While acknowledging the basic justness of the cause of freedom, they did not hesitate to report illegal acts performed by individuals on all sides of their conflicts.  At the establishment of East Timor’s truth commission, President Xanana Gusmão said: “Many Timorese want answers from those who caused their loss and suffering.  With answers, people can start the healing process and close this horrible chapter in their lives.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who chaired South Africa’s Truth Commission, described it as an “incubation chamber for national healing.”

I believe Kosovo’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission must take the same courageous path.  For in the words of the American civil rights activist Ida Wells, “the way to right wrongs is to shine the light of truth on them.”