October 5, 2016

BHRC seminar – Rupture and Reconciliation in Colombia

– Gildardo Tuberquia Úsuga
Representative of the Internal Council of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
– John Dew
Former British Ambassador to Colombia
-Gwen Burnyeat
Masters candidate in Social Anthropology at Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Researcher on the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
– Kirsty Brimelow QC
Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales; Doughty Street Chambers

In 1997, the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó in the North-West region of Urabá, Colombia, declared itself neutral to the five-decade armed conflict, a civilian protection strategy based on international humanitarian law. Since then, the community has suffered many killings and reprisals. In 2005, a massacre committed by paramilitaries and the Colombian army left eight people dead including three children. In response, the community declared themselves in ‘rupture’ with the Colombian state.

International human rights lawyer and mediator Kirsty Brimelow QC has been facilitating dialogue between the Colombian Government and the Peace Community. One result of this has been that on December 10th 2013, President Santos issued a historic formal apology to the community for stigmatisations made by his predecessor Álvaro Uribe. Anthropologist, Gwen Burnyeat, has worked with the Peace Community since 2011. She and Kirsty have now combined forces to work towards reconciliation between the Government and the community.

This seminar looks at the challenges faced in the current climate of peace talks for reconciliation between the state and its victims. Jon Dew, diplomat and former British Ambassador to Colombia, gives his perspective on the on-going peace process in the country.