There Is a Future If There Is Truth: A Discussion of Colombia’s Truth Commission Report


Thursday, October 13, 2022, 12:30pm to 2:00pm


Rubenstein 414 AB

On June 28, 2022, Colombia’s Truth Commission presented its final report “There is Future if There is Truth”. The Commission was established in 2016 as part of the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) to end the country’s six-decade long conflict. The Commission’s mandate was to identify groups who participated in the armed conflict and were responsible for human rights violations, clarify events that occurred during the conflict, recognize victims, and promote coexistence across Colombian society. The report is unique due to its length, connection with new citizens’ agendas (gender, structural racism, climate crisis), and its use of new conflict studies methodologies (data mining, machine learning, network analysis). Yanilda González will moderate a panel of Daniel Marín-López, Kathryn Sikkink, and Patrick Vinck to discuss the report’s main findings and the next steps for transitional justice in Colombia. The event is open to the Harvard community and will be videotaped.

For more information on the Colombian Truth Commission report, visit


Yanilda María González is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Her research focuses on policing, state violence, and citizenship in democracy, examining how race, class, and other forms of inequality shape these processes. González’s book Authoritarian Police in Democracy: Contested Security in Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 2020), studies the persistence of police forces as authoritarian enclaves in otherwise democratic states, demonstrating how ordinary democratic politics in unequal societies can both reproduce authoritarian policing and bring about rare moments of expansive reforms.


Daniel Marín-López is a former expert advisor on corporate complicity at the Colombian Truth Commission where he contributed to the collective work of researchers to establish extrajudicial responsibilities of economic actors in grave human rights violations committed during the internal armed conflict. He is a lecturer on human rights at Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia) and Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Bogotá, Colombia). As a Transitional Justice Fellow at the Carr Center, Marín-López researches the impact of transitional justice mechanisms globally in preventing atrocities, focusing on the Colombian case. He is a member of the Transitional Justice Evaluation Team funded by Global Affairs Canada through the Carr Center.

Kathryn Sikkink is the Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and an affiliated faculty member at Harvard Law School and Government Department. She is an international relations scholar best known for her work on human rights, international norms, transnational advocacy networks and social movements, and transitional justice. Sikkink has written extensively on human rights and transitional justice, most notably in her 2011 book The Justice Cascade: How Human Rights Prosecutions are Changing World Politics. In 2015, Sikkink conducted a USAID-funded study of Colombia’s reparations program, benchmarking the program against other national reparations programs and analyzing its institutional design and implementation. She is the Principal Investigator of the Transitional Justice Evaluation Team funded by Global Affairs Canada through the Carr Center.

Patrick Vinck is an Assistant Professor in the Department Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health and in the Department of Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School. He is also the Research Director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative where he leads a team conducting research on resilience, peacebuilding, and social cohesion in contexts of mass violence, conflicts, and natural disasters. Vinck pioneered the use of perception surveys to assess the views and opinions of war-affected populations toward accountability and conflict resolution. Along with Sikkink, he conducted the 2015 USAID-funded study of Colombia’s reparations program, leading the study of victims’ perceptions of the implementation of reparations measures. Vinck is the Principal Investigator of the Transitional Justice Evaluation Team funded by Global Affairs Canada through the Carr Center.

Kathryn Sikkink and Patrick Vinck are PIs on a grant from Global Affairs Canada through the Carr Center to study the creation of victim-centered, evidence-based transitional justice policies. Daniel Marín-López is a Transitional Justice Fellow on the grant, based in Bogotá, Colombia. The 3-year project aims to increase understanding amongst policymakers and civil society groups of what attributes of trials, truth commissions, and reparations contribute to atrocity prevention, post-conflict peacebuilding, and wider human rights protections for members of vulnerable groups. The ultimate goal is to design better policy to help countries transition from conflict to peace, and from autocracy to democracy, while addressing the complex needs of survivors. In service of this goal, the project will create a public website containing global data and assessment tools on transitional justice. The Transitional Justice Evaluation Team participates in events and consultations with policymakers and civil society groups about its research.