Peace, Justice and Transition in Colombia: Current Problems

Nagan, Winston P.
October 2008
Global Jurist;Oct2008, Vol. 8 Issue 3, p3
Academic Journal
This article is a revised version of a speech given at the University of Medellin, Colombia, September 2007. This speech was internally published by the university because of its critical importance to the crisis of transitional justice in the state. The internal publication is titled: ¿Quètan alternativas son las justicias alternativas? (Grupo de Investigaciones en Derecho Procesal). This revised version is submitted with the permission of the Department of Procedural Law at the University of Medellín, by the author. The fundamental theme of the piece is transitional justice. The concept emerged from the indeterminate nature of many post-war internal national conflicts. These conflicts were often sponsored by the superpowers who dominated the Cold War world. As the Cold War began to recede, these conflicts came to be seen in terms of genuine interest and concerns or as implicating irrational concerns and often as in the case of Colombia, the broader influence of organized crime cartels. We provide a reconstruction of the foundations of conflict in Colombia, and review the shifting justifications and alliances that have given it an unending interminable challenge for peace and proper political development. In Colombia, there is the question of violence itself as an essential consequence and condition of continuing violence. Thus, Colombia represents a complex challenge for national, regional and international policy making about how to contain the violence with sufficient efficacy and coherence to permit the strengthening of a democratic rule of law based dispensation. The article seeks to provide a more coherent description and justification of the emergence of the diverse paradigms of transitional justice, which effectually might be seen as an important gloss on the nature of international justice and peace. We review the Colombia experience from a comparative and international law perspective. It provides a critique of Colombia's "criminal justice model" and suggests that their broader sanctioning objectives inherent in transitional justice cannot be effectively accommodated in a system which provides excessive deference to the criminal justice mode as a foundation for peace and justice in Colombia. The article provides the broad outlines of a more informed comparative and international appraisal of modern approaches to transitional justice. There is recognition that each specific situation has many distinctive and unique elements, which challenge the efficacy and application of the diverse approaches to this problem. Colombia, it is suggested, has a system that requires significant modifications to respond to the problems confronting the state.



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