After a brief introduction by David Atwood, Director of QUNO, and some introductory comments from the chair, Priscilla Hayner of ICTJ (International Centre for Transitional Justice), Eduardo Gonzalez gave a presentation that reviewed experiences of transitional justice in the Americas.
First of all, it must be recognised that Latin America is the birthplace of many of the transitional justice mechanisms that are now used worldwide, in particular the concept of truth commissions. This innovative experience began in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with the continent wide transitions away from military and corporatist regimes, and the ends of several civil wars.
Thus, Latin America provides a useful set of case studies, as transitional justice has been going on for long enough to be examined in terms of its outcomes, but is also ongoing in many places.
The discussions were extremely varied, covering topics such as the role of economic crimes in transitional justice, the balance between peace and justice and the role of civil society. There were no clear answers to any of the complex dilemmas. However, most people felt that some kind of consideration of wider economic injustices was important, and that whilst there was a balance between peace and justice, peace without justice at all was likely to be unstable and unaccepted. In any case, it was recognised that transitional justice and peacebuilding are inherently fluid, and care must be taken to leave the doors open for justice to be found in the future.