The TRUCOM project studies how the Norwegian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), established by the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) in 2018, interprets and implements its mandate. The project will provide new knowledge about how established democracies, which have historically pursued a socially pervasive policy of assimilation towards minority groups, can organize and carry out a restorative process with the aim of reconciliation between the state, the majority population and minority groups.
The project has a three-part approach: 1) look at the background for the establishment of the commission, its mandate and composition, 2) study the TRC’s organization and administration, choice of procedure, method, and the implementation of its ongoing work, and 3) analyze the commission's report and recommendations when it is forwarded in June 2023.
Data that is collected is continuously analyzed. Documents from the pre TRC period have been collected and analyzed. The project has followed the TRC’s open meetings, which due to corona restrictions was done partly with the help of the commission's You Tube videos from the meetings. During autumn 2022, the third of five surveys aimed at the Norwegian population will be completed, and the project has daily media monitoring by the commission. Continuous interviews are carried out in the project, which are transcribed and analyzed.
In 2022, two peer-reviewed articles have been published, a third article has been considered for publication in an international journal, and a fourth has been sent to an international journal for review.. The project has prioritized dissemination in the form of lectures and has given interviews to the media. In autumn 2022, TRUCOM arranged a webinar where preliminary results of the research were communicated. About 80 people participated.The webinar was recorded and was available on TRUCOM's website for two months. In spring 2022, TRUCOM awarded a master's grant to the project "An analysis of the Norwegian Truth and Reconciliation Commission". The project has had meetings and discussed collaboration with other research environments that conduct research at the commission.
The research group consists of members from UiT Norway's Arctic University and Chr. Michelsen's Institute, who collectively have broad research expertise on Sami and Kven/Norwegian-Finnish relations, and on international truth commissions.
In 2017 the Norwegian parliament established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to investigate centuries of repressive state policies towards the Indigenous Sami and Kven/Norwegian Finns minority. TRUCOM will research how and in what ways the Norwegian TRC will lay the foundations for truth and reconciliation between the Sami and the Kven/Norwegian Finns on the one hand, and the majority population on the other. Introductorily the history, politics and processes prior to the TRC’s establishment will be addressed in a desk study. Simultaneously drawing on truth commission experiences from elsewhere in the world, the follow-up research will provide in-depth analysis by tracking the processes as they unfolds. This is the core of TRUCOM, and includes research on expectations to the TRC, who mobilizes around issues addressed by the TRC and how do various stakeholders influence the TRC’ work. Finally, the TRC’ findings and recommendations forwarded in the final report by analyzing the link between the TRC’ mandate, the TRC’ final report and the project’ findings, amongst other how important issues were handled by the TRC and whether the recommendations align with the mandate.
Theoretically, TRUCOM will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the work of truth commissions in established democracies. It will contribute theoretically to debates on the relationship between the state - indigenous people - minority, and debates on the significance of TRCs for indigenous and minority rights. Methodologically, the project employs novel ways to assess a TRC process by combining observations through participation at hearings, interviews, and surveys of central stakeholders at regular intervals. Empirically, the project will establish a knowledge foundation on pathways of reconciliation between majority, indigenous people and minority groups in established democracies with welfare states.