Standards and Toolkits in Transitional Justice Workshop, Bogotá
Roskilde University, Universidad de los Andes, and Ulster University organised an international workshop, 'Toolkits and Standards in Transitional Justice: Consolidation, Innovation and Implications', held on 15-16 February 2023 at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. The workshop, which was conducted in hybrid format and with simultaneous Spanish-English translation throughout, involved 8 sessions over two days, broadly addressing issues relating to standardization in the TJ field. 51 presenters included both established and emerging TJ scholars, working in a range of countries around the world: Australia, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru, Senegal, Sweden, Switzerland, Uganda, UK, USA.
Their papers looked at the standardardisation of TJ from different angles, confirming but also questioning it: Was the standard localised, made to fit, interpreted, rejected, and/or imposed in countries as different as Bosnia & Herzegovina, Ethiopia, and Uganda? What was actually localisation? And does TJ entrap? They analysed TJ in other countries too, such as Colombia, Cote d' Ivoire, Indonesia, and Nigeria, and in domains such as education and religion. Or they discussed the criminal justice 'tool' in CAR, Mexico, Colombia, at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court, and in TJ toolkits. The workshop's grounding in Colombia, and many cases in Latin America, Africa or the Former Yugoslavia, led to the juxtaposition and comparison of regional experiences. It seemed that TJ was expressed, used, and owned differently in Latin America, the Balkan, and Eastern or the Horn of Africa.
The workshop was preceded by a public event involving an introduction by project PI, Associate Professor Line Gissel (Roskilde University), two key note speeches, and a Q&A session. Key notes were delivered by Dr. Julieta Lemaitre Ripoll (Magistrate at Colombia's JEP), "Transitional and Peacebuilding in Colombia: The JEP Experience" and by Professor Cath Collins (Ulster University), “’Nuestro Norte es el Sur”: De-peripheralising Latin American Transitional Justice’”. Where Dr. Lemaitre reflected on Colombia's Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) and provided insights into the dilemmas and difficulties of implementing post-conflict justice, Prof. Collins charted the field's history and relationship to Latin America, stressing its ownership in communities and populations.
The workshop day 2 took participants to visit a TJ site in Bogotá, "Fragmentos, Espacio de Arte y Memoria". This anti-memorial had flooring made from tiles cast from decommissioned FARC-EP weapons, while the walls comprised artwork about Colombia's conflict. This visit, at the end of the workshop, connected well with Dr. Lemaitra's speech the previous day. They were experienced as moving and meaningful.
Part of the ‘Transitional Justice Standardisation’ project funded by the Independent Research Council Denmark, the events laid the ground for enriching discussions about the role of standard-setting in TJ. It provided new insights into how the practice and theory of TJ will develop in the years ahead.