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Abstract: The concept of transitional justice has been at the heart of many efforts to end major conflicts in nations where mass atrocities have been committed. A core element in that approach is accountability for the crimes committed by the various parties involved. But, as governments, courts and international organizations tackle increasingly complicated situations, the tension between the need to bring perpetrators to justice and the need to secure a lasting peace in those countries has reached new highs. In Colombia, a lengthy and difficult peace negotiation between the government and the FARC guerrillas laid bare that tension, pushing negotiators, victims and the Colombian society to examine and re-examine the meaning and purpose of justice in a country traumatized by five decades of conflict. This 6-page multimedia case tells the story through compelling video interviews with the protagonists: government and FARC negotiators, victims, politicians and human rights experts.
Learning objective: This case allows students to learn from first-hand accounts about the complex circumstances that surrounded the Colombian peace process and discuss the dilemmas that negotiators, victims, political leaders and average Colombians had to face at different stages. It asks students to consider using a more realistic and empirical approach to measuring human rights progress as the movement from a situation of manifest injustice to one of more justice, and to evaluate where in that continuum does the 2016 Colombian peace agreement belong.