Shredded Colombia's Special Jurisdiction for Peace in an increasingly illiberal context of misi...


From 2012 to 2016, the Colombian Government and the FARC-EP guerilla group sought to end the region's longest non-international armed conflict. Under the auspices of the international community, this process drew from a complex series of practices and knowledge often known as ‘transitional justice'. Indeed, international expertise — in law and other fields — was also actively mobilized by both parties, as well as civil society and the anti-peace opposition, to contest the meaning of these terms. On paper, the peace agreement adopted a cutting-edge and comprehensive system aimed at delivering truth, justice, reparation, and non-repetition (the SIVJRNR), including both judicial and extrajudicial mechanisms following international standards and best practices. Yet in practice, the situation became increasingly dire after the peace agreement was narrowly voted down in October 2016. Two years later, having entered government, the former populist opposition proudly announced its plan to shred the peace accord and the SIVJRNR (including its crown jewel: the Special Jurisdiction for Peace or JEP). In this context,this article seeks to identify and understand the strategies which might be adopted by transitional justice institutions to prevail against waves of populist misinformation and backlash. The Colombian experiment can offer important insights on how humanitarian actors can generate public narratives of reconciliation in our current dire times of mistrust.