"Una Paz Estable y Duradera" : A Comparative Analysis Of Transitional justice Mechanisms In the Colombian Conflict
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Sixteen years after moving from Colombia to the United States, I have gotten the opportunity to write my senior thesis on the transitional justice mechanisms implemented in Colombia in peace agreements with the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC; United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia) and with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC; Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). Transitional justice in Colombia is an increasingly divisive topic; transitional justice mechanisms are tasked with providing justice while simultaneously incentivizing combatants to demobilize. This responsibility is complicated in Colombia; the ongoing conflict means that Colombians are faced with building peace in a time of war. Further complications arise from the conflict's 52-year duration. For Colombia, the war has been catastrophic, leaving over 220,000 dead and more than six million displaced (International Crisis Group 2016). As noted by the New York Times, "The life of every Colombian alive today has been defined, to varying degrees, by violence" (New York Times Editorial Board 2016). The peace agreement between the FARC and the Colombian government is fittingly titled, "Acuerdo Final Para Ia Terminaci6n del Conjlicto y la Construcci6n de Una Paz Estable y Duradera," (Final Agreement for the End of the Conflict and the Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace). This agreement addresses the causes of the 52-year conflict by offering solutions in six key areas: comprehensive rural reform, political participation, ending the conflict, solving the problem of illicit drugs, addressing the rights of victims, and creating mechanisms for the implementation and verification of the peace agreement (Acuerdo Final 2016, 8). In order to create a stable and long-lasting peace, the Colombian government and the FARC both acknowledged the need to address the root causes of the conflict. Rural and political reforms address the systematic inequalities that contributed to the creation of the conflict. Transitional justice mechanisms further strengthen the peace agreement by ensuring the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of former combatants, while addressing victims' rights to justice and truth. The peace agreement does not merely seek to demobilize the FARC; rather, it seeks to start a new chapter in Colombia's history- a chapter marked by a stable and lasting peace. A vital component of the implementation of any peace agreement is the broad support of civil society. The four-year negotiating process with the FARC demonstrated that mechanisms for creating peace are divisive; in particular, many Colombians are unwilling to accept the transitional justice mechanisms created in the agreement. However, in order to rightfully and properly critique the mechanisms implemented by the agreement, it is important to understand transitional justice as a field and its historical role within Colombia. This project attempts to do just that.