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Law in Peace Negotiations

Bogotá, 15-16 June 2007

Seminar concept | Seminar programme | Project policy briefs | Project anthology Law in Peace Negotiations | February 2024 meeting in CILRAP Bottega | CILRAP Conversation with Amb. D. Nylander | CILRAP Conversation with Dr. B. Ramcharan | CILRAP Conversation with Amb. J. Vibe| Policy Brief Series No. 149 by M. Bergsmo

This seminar considered different ways in which law can constrain and limit actors in peace processes, as well as how legal incentives may be used to push peace negotiations forward. A basic premise is that the law has two central roles in peace processes: there are prescriptive areas of law that constrain to some extent the space for political maneuvers, but there are also discretionary areas of law which can work as instruments for peace actors. What types of constraints does the law tend to impose on settlements? How can the law be instrumental in facilitating negotiations? What can we learn from the political role played by legal institutions in cases of war settlement?

These were among the questions discussed at a seminar in Bogotá convened by the Forum for International Criminal Justice and Conflict (predecessor to CILRAP’s FICHL-department which started as an initiative under PRIO), with PRIO, the Vice Presidency of Colombia, the National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation of Colombia, and Universidad del Rosario. The project was co-ordinated by later CILRAP Director Morten Bergsmo and Professor Pablo Kalmanovitz, who co-edited the project anthology Law in Peace Negotiations.

Multidisciplinary, the seminar and anthology offer penetrating analyses also by leading social scientists. The book discusses what roles the law has and should have in war settlements and peace negotiations, with a particular focus on internal armed conflicts? The implementation of transitional justice in war settlements is conditioned to an important degree by the interplay of political forces, in particular but not exclusively by the bargaining power of the negotiating groups. While armed groups may have an interest in being immune to justice, there are also political actors with an interest in seeing justice done, notably victims' movements and domestic and international human rights activists.

The project was funded through PRIO by the Peace and Reconciliation Section of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which also funded the subsequent project Distributive Justice in Transitions (English and Spanish). Both books focus to some extent on Colombia. Both came to play a role in the Colombia-FARC peace process where Norwegian Ambassador Dag H. Nylander was an important facilitator, having previously served as desk-officer in the Peace and Reconciliation Section with the foresight behind the two project grants. CILRAP’s Director advised the Colombia process as a member of the ‘New York Group’. CILRAP has remained committed to knowledge-generation on mediation questions.

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