On July 28 in Bogota, Professor Muna Ndulo shared his thoughts on transitional justice at a seminar on the reconciliation and peace process in Colombia. Ndulo, the Elizabeth and Arthur Reich Director of the Leo and Arvilla Berger International Legal Studies Program and director of the Institute for African Development, was one of several experts invited to present alternate view points on the analysis and resolution of conflicts. One of the experts, in addition to speakers from Spain and Chile, was Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias, the former president of Costa Rica.
The event was held against the background of the ongoing peace talks between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia ( Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia, FARC). After 50 years of conflict, both parties are in deliberations to find ways to consolidate the de facto truce currently prevailing in Colombia and to arrive at a peace agreement that would deal with the challenges of peace building.
Ndulo's presentation on "Transitional Justice and Responses to Human Rights Violations in Post Conflict Societies" focused on best practices and experiences of countries emerging from conflict. He outlined the full range of processes and mechanisms associated with society's attempt to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale human rights abuses in order to ensure accountability, serve justice, achieve reconciliation, and transition to a democratic society underpinned by human-rights values. The processes include prosecution, the right to truth, reparations, and institutional reforms designed to promote the rule of law, justice, and inclusiveness in the political system. He discussed several best practices, including the South African Truth Commission, and emphasized the need to remain focused on the peace process despite the many challenges along the way. Ndulo cautioned that as societies face the challenges of peace-building, they must realize that reconciliation for some who live through the conflict takes a long time. But, he added, what is important is to lay the foundations for reconciliation.
The seminar, which was hosted by the National University of Colombia, was organized by the Centrol de Estudios Interdisciplinarios y Applicados Foundation (CeiBa), the Ministry of Education, and the Monitoring Center for Peace Dialogues, a think tank on Peace. The CeiBa Foundation is composed of the four leading universities in Colombia. The event was beamed to several university campuses across the country.