Seeking Truth in Polarized Times: The Challenges of Colombia’s Truth Commission

Gaston Ocampo / Inter-American Dialogue

On November 16, the Inter-American Dialogue partnered with the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program to host an event on the challenges facing the Colombian Truth Commission. The discussion featured Francisco de Roux, President of the Commission, with Viviana Krsticevic, executive director of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) providing commentary and moderation by Michael Camillieri, director of the Inter-American Dialogue’s Peter D. Bell Rule of Law Program, and Benjamin Garden, senior advisor of the Latin American Program at the Wilson Center.

Francisco de Roux began the discussion by talking about the difficult process of creating the commission, discussing the many dialogues with disparate groups necessary for the Commission’s creation. He explained that the commission relies on the input and contributions of everyday Colombians and argued that the Commission made an important advance by creating a space for the clarification of the conflict’s human and historical truth separate from the judicial aspects of post-conflict. De Roux explained that the biggest challenge for the Commission is to work towards both truth and reconciliation conceding that the future is not yet clear as there are so many factors that influence the process of clarification.

Viviana Krsticevic supplemented his exposition by emphasizing the importance of the existence of truth commissions in general, as they are a way of narrowing the gaps between opposing narratives of nation and identity and creating a path for national unity and reconciliation. She recalled other cases of violence and conflict in Latin America and the truth commissions that followed them, arguing that the work of truth commissions goes further than just producing reports as the work itself represents a step forward for truth and reconciliation.

The event concluded with a Q&A session that addressed several concerns on how the commission will achieve reconciliation and how Colombians perceive the work of the truth commission.

Watch the full recording of this event here