The Instance Equite ´ et Re ´conciliation (IER) was created by royal decree in Morocco in 2004 and is the first truth commission held in an Arab-Islamic country. In the article, I explore the reasons for the commission’s emergence and offer an explanation for why it took the form it did. I argue the royal initiative for a truth commission fits within a pattern of controlled reform in Morocco, and represents an attempt by the palace to co-opt a critical public discourse on past abuses into a state-managed forum. However, the activists who formed the IER believed that by striking a pragmatic compromise they could initiate a dialogue on democratic reform towards resolving the country’s social and political crisis. These divergent objectives have an impact on implementation of the report recommendations, as the actors who stand to lose the most with proposed reforms retain full control of the political process at present. The approach to transitional justice chosen, however, arguably responded to the demands of a majority of victims, who primarily sought a forum for the airing of grievances and restoration of social justice – priorities explained by values embedded in Moroccan civic culture and the socio- religious role of the monarchy. I argue the IER represents a new type amongst transitional justice measures, and discuss its significance for analogous measures in the Middle East and North Africa.
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