Truth Commissions: Conflict-Related Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Week two flew by! I’ve gotten a bit of a routine down at this point, and I’m excited to have started getting deeper into the work I’ll be doing over the course of the internship.

On Tuesday, many staff members from the Cape Town office got together in person to hold meetings, offer a communal workspace, and get lunch together. Much of the research team works independently and can work from any location, so it was great to meet up and experience the group dynamic in person. CSVR switched to a less office-centric model of work recently, and I’m enjoying the balance it offers. Going out to lunch with my colleagues was also great as we had many fun conversations and were able to learn about everyone’s background. It was interesting to share and compare my experiences in the US as well. I’m thankful that I have the opportunity for this internship to be in person where I am able to have such cross-cultural experiences.

In terms of my work specifically with the research team, I will be focusing on Ghana. The project revolves around the role of truth commissions in addressing conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence. Each researcher focuses on one country to complete a country summary, a more detailed case study, and a portion of the database.  Each truth commission addresses sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) to differing degrees and our goal is to compile a database that addresses how each country’s truth commission has dealt with conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence. We can then analyze that information to contribute to policy development as well as better understand how civil society can more effectively use truth commissions to promote justice. In my research so far, I have found that Ghana’s truth commission mandate does not explicitly discuss SGBV, but the final report does include certain accounts and information on it. Secondary sources also cover the topic. This week I was able to read examples from some of the researchers already established at CSVR, get familiar with the database, annotate Ghana’s mandate, and start working through the final report.

The research team will meet again as a whole on Tuesday for updates. I look forward to continuing to work with everyone here in Cape Town and to fitting in some more adventures around the city as well!