Call for Papers: The Right to Truth, Justice and Reparation in Latin America

Monday 15 April 2013

4 June 2013, Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London

Sponsored by the Institute for the Study of the Americas and the Human Rights Consortium

Keynote speaker: Dr Kimberly Theidon, Harvard University

In the last decade of the twentieth century, in many Latin American countries that had undergone democratization processes, survivors of recent civil wars and repressive regimes began to demand truth, justice and reparation. Although not formally stipulated as a human right under international law, various articulations of the right to truth have become increasingly visible within reconciliation processes and transitional justice mechanisms. Professional and grassroots human rights organizations as well as individuals have cited “truth” as an essential factor in helping victims deal with past atrocities. Truth Commissions, set up by the international community as mechanisms to enable reconciliation, have often served as the basis for the legitimation of victims’ right to truth. In addition to the increasing role of international criminal courts, claims to truth have also been directly made to states, which are considered morally responsible for enforcing these claims in cases where the state was complicit or even involved in human rights violations. More or less implicitly, the right to truth has been linked to justice and reparation within the politics of victimhood in several Latin American countries and in the burgeoning field of transitional justice. Yet scant critical reflection has emerged around the implications of the conjoining of truth with justice and reparation.

The purpose of this one-day conference is to scrutinize the definition and scope of the right to truth, justice and reparation and who is defining it; how the right to truth and its linkage to justice and reparation have emerged; and what struggles and possibilities are activated around claims to this right.

We welcome empirically grounded papers that address any of the following questions:

- How are truth, justice and reparation being defined and by whom? What are the implications of linking the right to truth to justice and reparation? What expectations does this right raise among different populations (including victims as well as perpetrators)?

-What forms of political subjectivity and collective action have emerged through the mobilization of the right to truth, justice and reparation? What role is the state playing in these processes? When and how has this right already been enacted? What obligations have emerged, and for whom, as a complement to this right?

- How do the definitions of the right to truth, justice and reparation mobilized by international organizations relate/clash/overlap with local definitions of the same right? Do claims emerge locally, with bottom-up definitions prevailing, or are definitions adapted from top-down international legal discourse? What forms of legal pluralism emerge in these processes?

- How is the legitimacy of this right assessed? What role do diverse religions and moralities play in defining and legitimating this right? Who is entitled to this right and who is excluded? Can this right be all-inclusive, or does it require that we distinguish among categories of victims? If so, how?

- What attempts have been made to legislate this right? What is the common ground that would allow for this right to be included in an international convention? Would that be desirable? What problems and advantages would be associated with a universal right to truth, justice and reparation?

Paper proposals of 350 words should be submitted to Ainhoa Montoya at therighttotruth@gmail.com BY 20 APRIL 2013. Full-length drafts of the selected proposals will be due by 26 May 2013 to facilitate the work of the discussants.