Towards culturally-sensitive transitional justice processes : the case of Colombia

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Palacios Larrea, Ana
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This dissertation examines the role of cultural differences in Transitional Justice (TJ) processes. It starts by pointing out the weaknesses of the paradigmatic model of TJ, characterized as being legalist and top-down. It follows by suggesting the need broaden the concept of justice that guides the TJ process to make it sensitive to cultural particularities and, thereby, to better incorporate the local communities’ needs and priorities and acknowledge the different experiences of conflict and/or the harm done to individuals and communities. To that end, key concepts such as local participation, ownership, empowerment and home-grown initiatives are discussed and lessons are drawn from development studies and experiences in the field. Then, practical issues and challenges arising in making the model operational are dealt with, as regards the localization and cultural adaptation of the process and the roles of the different actors involved (that of the state, victims and survivors and of civil society) are analyzed. Finally, the TJ mechanisms established in Colombia are reviewed departing from the culturally-sensitive TJ model proposed. The analysis leads to the conclusion of an actual move towards an improved incorporation of cultural differences in TJ processes. Key words: Transitional justice, culture, cultural differences, participation, ownership, localization, differential approach.
Second semester University: KU Leuven
participation, transitional justice, Colombia, culture