Transitional Justice before and after Transition: Colombia in Comparative Perspective


  • Philip Williams University of Florida
  • Juanita Duque University of Florida



The Colombian experience with transitional justice (TJ) significantly predates the recent peace agreement between the Colombia government and the FARC. Colombia presents a unique case of significant efforts towards TJ before a negotiated end of the armed conflict was achieved. The laws, institutions, and programs that implemented these earlier TJ mechanisms set the foundation for a post-conflict environment even though their implementation took place in the midst of an ongoing conflict. Each administration has been able to identify areas of improvement for the mechanisms already in place, and have strengthened them through either changes to the normative structure or by creating new institutions. After a brief summary of the evolution of the concept of TJ and TJ mechanisms, the paper provides a brief overview of comparative cases of TJ in Central America. Then the Colombian case is considered, first examining TJ initiatives that predate the peace agreement, before focusing on TJ mechanisms negotiated between the Colombian government and FARC. Analyzing the Colombian case in both historical and comparative perspective can help to shed light on some of the key challenges that lay ahead for TJ accountability in Colombia.






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