Transitional Justice and DDR: The Case of Colombia

Authored by: Sergio Jaramillo, Yanet Giha, and Paula Torres

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR), Political Transitions, Transitional Justice
Country: Colombia
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Year: 2009
Citation: Jaramillo, Sergio, Yaneth Giha, and Paula Torres. Transitional Justice and DDR: The Case of Colombia. New York: International Center for Transitional Justice, 2009.

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Executive Summary

This paper analyzes the current Colombian policy of disarmament, demobilization and reinsertion (DDR) in light of the principles of transitional justice—that is, a framework according to which justice, truth and reparations are crucial for achieving the transition to peace, democracy and national reconciliation. Additionally, this paper compares the current DDR program in Colombia with the program carried out in the 1990s—a program that was also carried out in the midst of the armed conflict. The armed conflict in Colombia and the strategy for demobilization have changed considerably since the 1990s, both in terms of the number of ex-combatants and of the mechanisms through which they have demobilized. From 1989 to 1994, the Colombian state signed separate peace agreements with nine guerrilla groups, made up of approximately 4,700 combatants who opted for demobilization and civilian reinsertion programs. Some also benefited from the 1991 constitutional reform that provided for the active participation in politics of the demobilized. At present, several members of those organizations continue to be active in politics and in public life, mostly in opposition political parties. Therefore, the peace process in the nineties and its political juncture represent a historical moment that is worth examining more closely, as the consequences of the measures adopted then continue to be an open wound in the country’s history. It shows that, although there was a DDR process following negotiations in the 1990s, national reconciliation was not fully achieved regarding past events. This paper holds that this lack of reconciliation is partly due to the fact that initiatives aimed at ensuring truth, justice and reparations did not accompany the DDR process.