Colombia is a constitutional democracy with a strong administrative state, and a steadily growing economy. Its 1991 Constitution incorporated an expansive Bill of Rights with far-reaching legal protection mechanisms for vulnerable groups, further developed by its Constitutional Court in over 20 years of progressive jurisprudence. Its strong enforcement mechanisms, as well as progressive discourse on rights, are used actively by a plethora of grassroots organizations in their struggle for social change. At the same time, Colombia is engaged in a protracted civil conflict that has entailed the presence of guerrillas, counterinsurgency operations with U.S. support, paramilitary death squads, and the devastating effects of the militarization of the so-called ´war on drugs`.

The conflict, waged mostly in the rural areas, has had an enormous toll on civilian populations; one such toll, widely publicized, has been massive internal displacement. At between 4,93,5 and 5,5 million, Colombia has the world's highest rates of internally displaced people (IDPs) – despite a ten year old effort to create a system for transitional justice. From 2012, the government and FARC, the largest guerilla group, have been engaged in peace negotiations in Havana, with Cuba and Norway as "países garantes". Among the six substantive issues on the peace negotiations agenda are land reform, political participation, and rights of victims.

Using insights from two ongoing studies on Colombia, this seminar offers field-based perspectives to reflect on these issues from a transitional justice perspective. Particular attention is given to the role of women.

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  • Julieta Lemaitre is a lawyer and an associate professor at the Universidad de los Andes Law School in Bogotá and a 2014 PRIO Global Fellow.
  • Henrik Wiig is an economist by training and a Senior Research Fellow at the Norwegian Institute of Urban and Regional Research (NIBR).
  • Jemima Garcia-Godos is a human geographer and an associate professor at the department of sociology and human geography at the University of Oslo (UiO).
  • Kristin Bergtora Sandvik is a legal anthropologist by training, a PRIO Senior Research and the Centre Director for the Norwegian Center for Humanitarian Studies (NCHS).

This academic seminar is organized by the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies (NCHS), in collaboration with the PRIO Research Groups on Gender and Law and Ethics.