Georgia State University
Does Justice Promote Social Cohesion: Dilemmas of Transitional Justice in Colombia?
April 2014 – May 2015
GSU’s research team analyzed how the success of a peace process is influenced by the perceived legitimacy of transitional justice mechanisms, and how that legitimacy is influenced by a government's international obligations regarding the mechanisms’ design and management. The GSU team implemented its research in Colombia, through two waves of a public opinion survey with embedded experimental vignettes, and presented the results from each wave to public, private, and international stakeholders in Colombia. Key findings include:
- Using narrative to contextualize the crimes and victims increased public support for the peace process: noticeably different responses were received when a survey question was asked after the parameters of the question had been embedded within a story. For instance, respondents showed significantly higher support for the reintegration of ex-combatants into social and political life when they were given a short story that explained why the individual had joined a rebel military force, what atrocities or injustices he had committed and why, and what level of authority he had had within the organization than if respondents were asked a more abstract question such as: “Should ex-combatants who have committed human rights abuses be able to run for political office?”
- Lowered public trust in any party to the peace talks, regardless of what atrocities were committed by that party, decreased public support for the peace process, implying that parties need to build public trust equally in all players at the negotiating table to gain public buy-in to the peace process.