Type: Public event

The comparative politics of accountability, transitional justice and civil conflict: On the deployment of human rights and international humanitarian law

Date & time

Sep 18, 2014, 6:00-7:30 pm EDT


Weill Hall, Betty Ford Classroom
735 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Free and open to the public.

About the event:

The IPC will host a comparative panel on human rights, conflict and peace processes. The panel will examine current narratives about human rights atrocities, the resolution of civil conflicts and the success of international legal policy instruments in producing reparation policy frameworks and consolidating democratic systems after conflict. This "South-South Axis Dialogue" will explore the global interconnections between accountability, the 'Rule of Law' and human rights policy principles that underline the ideals for creating democratic systems. It will engage the official narrative frameworks, which newly constituted states use to implement policy and establish state systems based on human rights ideals. It will address the difficulties states face after official inauguration. It will engage with international lessons from attempts to nationally integrate civic groups with histories of war; manage ongoing social conflicts over the distribution of rights, land, resources and life opportunities. The panelists will address how these states manage the endemic day-to-day violence often still present after conflicts have been officially ended. The dialogue will be held in the context of historical human rights based conflicts, International Humanitarian Law and the deployment of the principles of Truth, Justice and Accountability in order to establish and sustain long term peace.

The IPC is honored to convene this panel of intellectuals, human rights professionals and policy experts. Panelists have in depth experience with the conflicts, negotiations and political settlements in Colombia, South Africa, Guatemala and Nigeria.

About the panelists:

Victoria Sanford is professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology, and founding director of the Center for Human Rights and Peace Studies at Lehman College. She is a member of the Doctoral Faculty at the City University of New York Graduate Center. She is a Research Associate at Columbia University's Center for International Conflict Resolution and an Affiliated Scholar at Rutgers University's Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights. She holds a doctorate in Anthropology from Stanford University where she studied International Human Rights Law at Stanford Law School and she holds a certificate in Human Rights Law from the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights in Costa Rica. She is a former John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, a Bunting Peace Fellow at Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, a Rockefeller Fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, a MacArthur Consortium Fellow at Stanford's Center for Security and Cooperation, an Inter-American Institute for Human Rights Fellow, a Fulbright-Hays scholar, an Inter-American Foundation Fellow and the recipient of grants from the United States Institute for Peace, Fulbright Teaching/Research Award, and Soros Foundation Guatemala, Open Society Institute, and the Shaler Adams Foundation, among others.

She is the author of Buried Secrets: Truth and Human Rights in Guatemala (2003), Violencia y Genocidio en Guatemala (2003), Guatemala: Del Genocidio al Feminicidio (2008), La Masacre de Panzos: Etnicidad, Tierra y Violencia en Guatemala (2009), editor (with Asale Angel Ajani) of Engaged Observer: Anthropology, Advocacy and Activism (2008), and co-author of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation's report to the Commission for Historical Clarification (the Guatemalan truth commission). In August of 2012, she served as an invited expert witness on the Guatemalan genocide before Judge Santiago Pedraz in the Spanish National Court's international genocide case against the Guatemalan generals. She has published and presented her work in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Japan, South Korean, England, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Slovenia, Germany, France, Spain, and South Africa. She is currently writing This is How It Works ~ Violence and Traumatic Memory Across Generations. For more info: www.fygeditores.com/sanford/‎ 

Alejandro Castillejo-Cuéllar is currently associate professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at the Universidad de los Andes, Colombia. He was a research fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study and Humboldt University in Berlin, Columbia University (New York), and at the Center for Study of Ethno-political Conflict, University of Pennsylvania. Between 2002 and 2004, Professor Castillejo-Cuéllar also served as visiting scholar at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and the Direct Action Center for Peace and Memory, both in South Africa. He has also been British Academy Latin American Fellow (2007), visiting professor and guest scholar at the School of Oriental and African Studies (2007), London, professor at Zayed University, Dubai (where he also founded in 2009 the International Journal for the Study of Culture and Society), and the Council for the Development of Social Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Senegal, among various other institutions in Latin America and Europe. In 2002, he was consultant to the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission and in 2010 to the Colombian National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation and the Historical Memory Group. As part of his collaborative engagement with victims' organizations in Colombia, he recently served as chief rapporteur in charge of writing the official proposals on behalf of the National Conference of Victims of Forced Disappearances to the peace process in Havana. 

His writing and ethnographic work has dealt with the personal and communal effects of political violence among displaced communities of peasants and urban dwellers in Colombia, and apartheid victims' in South Africa. One of his books, The Archives of Pain: Essays on Violence and Collective Remembering in Contemporary South Africa, was awarded the 2006 Stanley Diamond Memorial Award in the Social Sciences (New School University, New York) and the 2010 Angel Escobar Foundation Award in the Social Sciences (Colombia). During the last years he has also been conducting research on the judicial scenarios that have been part of the demobilization process of former paramilitaries. Based on these materials, Prof. Castillejo is currently finishing the book After the Traces of the Body: the Politics and Aesthetics of Forced Disappearances in Colombia, an ethnographic exploration of Colombia's transitional scenario. He has also been working on a short personal reflection on pedagogy entitled, The Nomadic Word: Violence, Globalization and the Pedagogies of the Irreparable. 

Omolade Adunbi is a political anthropologist and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS) and a Faculty Associate in the Program in the Environment (PITE) at the University of Michigan. Adunbi's areas of research explore issues related to resource distribution, governance, human and environmental rights, contestations occasioned by abundance natural resources such as oil, culture, transnational institutions, multinational corporations, and the postcolonial state. His teaching interest revolves around environmental politics, contemporary African society, culture and politics, human and environmental rights, conservation and development practices. 

His research in the last ten years has been on Nigeria and is situated in the oil-rich communities of the Niger Delta region where he examines the connection between oil wealth and power on the one hand, and transnational corporations and civil society organizations and their collaboration with NGOs and members of the local communities on the other. His new research focuses on China's engagement with Africa looking specifically at how Chinese entrepreneurs and government's interest in Africa's natural resources particularly oil is beginning to shape new practices that create spaces of contestation between Chinese corporations and Western based corporations. He has conducted ethnographic research in Nigeria's oil communities and Kenya's conservation and development industry.

Adunbi has also been involved in developing and leading a unique study abroad program that explores the interconnection between conservation and development in cultural landscapes. In this regard, in the last three years, he has led a group of University of Michigan students and few University of Nairobi Kenya students annually to the Massai Mara National Reserve and Laikipia district in Kenya to study conservation and development. The course is a collaborative effort between the University of Michigan and the University of Nairobi.

Yazier Henry is a lecturer at the Ford School. As a public intellectual, strategist and professional human rights advocate, he has written and published on the politics of social voice, memory, trauma, identity, peace processes, Truth Commissions, and international transitional justice. His current writing projects focus on how structural and administrative violence come to be institutionalized during post-colonial transitions. He has in-depth experience in social and political movements, social and political systems, strategic communications, and political strategy. Among the courses Henry has taught at the Ford School are "Social Activism, Democracy, and Globalization: Perspectives of the Global South," "The Politics of Official Apology, Reconciliation, Reparations and Public Policy," and the core course, "Values, Ethics, and Public Policy." Henry gained his early advocacy experience in the international anti-apartheid movement.

John Ciorciari is an assistant professor at the Ford School. His interests include international law, politics, and international finance. His current research projects focus primarily on the Asia-Pacific region, and examine foreign policy strategies, human rights, and the reform of international economic institutions. He has served as a National Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, and as a Shorenstein Fellow at the university's Asia-Pacific Research Center. From 2004-07, he served as a policy official in the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of International Affairs. Since 1999, he has been a legal advisor to the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which promotes historical memory and justice for the atrocities of the Pol Pot regime. His book, The Limits of Alignment: Southeast Asia and the Great Powers since 1975, investigates the power alignments of small and middle states in Southeast Asia.