Bargaining for Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa: A Game-Theoretic Analysis

  • Jerrob Duffy Arkin, Kaplan and Cohen LLP 570 Madison Ave., New York, NY USA 10022
  • Don Ross School of Economics, University of Cape Town Private Bag, Rondebosch 7700 South Africa


As regimes move from illiberal to liberal, post-transition justice methodology has been employed to engender truth and reconciliation. These normative concepts have evolved into a policy of creating truth and reconciliation commissions that trade civil and criminal amnesty with applicants in exchange for information. This bargained-for exchange can be analyzed as an imperfect information game, where the commission attempts to maximize information (truth) while the applicant seeks amnesty for the lowest possible price. Using game-theoretic analysis, the authors model the truth-amnesty game and predict the optimal commission strategy. The analysis leads to the recommendation that future transitional justice commissions employ various specific lexicographic ordering strategies to minimize dead weight loss in the transaction. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.20(1) 2001: 66-89

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eISSN: 0258-0136