Speaker: Cath Collins (Transitional Justice Institute, Ulster University); discussants: Pilar Domingo (ODI), Par Engstrom (UCL Americas) - This event is the launch of the recently published Transitional Justice in Latin America: The Uneven Road from Impunity towards Accountability (Routledge, 2016) edited by Elin Skaar, Jemima Garcia-Godos and Cath Collins. Professor Cath Collins will be joined by Dr Pilar Domingo and Dr Par Engstrom to discuss the main findings of this 3 year, inter-regional research project as well as its main implications for research and policy on transitional justice in Latin America and beyond.
Transitional Justice in Latin America is the first book to comprehensively and systematically trace recent trajectories from impunity towards accountability for past human rights violations in Latin America. Based on rich analysis, the international team of authors track, across time, the accountability achievements and challenges of nine countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. Historical analysis is visually represented in graphs that track country milestones in accountability on four different transitional justice dimensions (truthtelling, prosecutions, the overcoming of amnesties, and reparations). While accountability levels in all countries are found to be higher today than when transitions or peace processes began in the 1980s, the movement is non-linear, with occasional backsliding, and most progress occurring after 2000. Factors that help explain these trajectories include political will; civil society demands; independent courts, judges, and prosecutors; and the role of the inter-American human rights system. Importantly, the mere presence or absence of amnesty laws is not found to be decisive. Innovative country trajectory graphs, cross-country graphs and ‘accountability triangles’ visually sum up the book’s findings, making complex realities easily accessible to the reader. The book will be of much interest to scholars in the fields of transitional justice and peacebuilding, as well as students generally concerned with human rights and democratisation.
Cath Collins has been Professor of Transitional Justice at Ulster University’s Transitional Justice Institute since March 2013. She was previously Associate Professor of Politics at the Universidad Diego Portales, Chile, where she founded and still directs the Transitional Justice Observatory (ex ‘Human Rights Observatory’’). The Observatory (www.derechoshumanos.udp.cl, Observatorio JT) maps current justice, truth and memory developments in Chile over the Pinochet-era dictatorship; works closely with relatives’ associations and with forensic, judicial and legal professionals, and is a founder member of the Latin American Transitional Justice Network www.rlajt.com. Prof Collins’s previous publications include the books The Politics of Memory in Chile (co-edited) and Post-Transitional Justice: Human Rights Trials in Chile and El Salvador. She has also produced manuals and workshop materials for relatives’ associations, lawyers, judicial personnel, the forensic service and detective police, and is currently involved in a UK-Chile exchange project to assist in the search for victims of disappearance. She teaches and supervises in the UK and Chile on Latin American politics, international criminal justice, human rights, and transitional justice. She holds a PhD from the Institute for the Study of the Americas at the University of London (2004), and was the Chatham House Research Fellow for Latin America (2005-2007). Her first and masters' degrees are from the universities of Cambridge, London, Lancaster, and Queens’ Belfast.
Dr Pilar Domingo joined ODI as Research Fellow in the Politics and Governance team in January of 2009. Previously she was at the Institute for the Study of the Americas of the University of London, and prior to that at the University of Salamanca in Spain. She has a D.Phil in Politics, and has published in the areas of: accountability, rule of law, and justice sector reform; rights-based citizenship and legal empowerment for vulnerable groups through rights claims; transitional justice, and democratization, institutional reform and state-building. Her region of expertise is Latin America. Since joining ODI she has worked on a number of rights, governance and state-building issues, increasingly in connection to situations of fragility. She leads on work on rule of law and justice sector reform, and transitional justice processes. Her recent work includes: contributing to OECD-DAC guidance on state-building in fragile states; leading a report on children and women's rights in Kenya under the new Constitution of 2010; research on justice and security reforms in fragile settings; the challenges of working with non-state actors and institutions in fragile settings.
Dr Par Engstrom is Senior Lecturer in Human Rights at UCL Institute of the Americas and co-chair of the London Transitional Justice Network.