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Elusive Justice: Women, Land Rights, and Colombia's Transition to Peace

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University of Wisconsin Press, 2019


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Fifty years of violence perpetrated by guerrillas, paramilitaries, and official armed forces in Colombia displaced more than six million people. In 2011, as part of a larger transitional justice process, the Colombian government approved a law that would restore land rights for those who lost their homes during the conflicts. However, this restitution process lacked appropriate provisions for rural women beyond granting them a formal property title.

Drawing on decades of research, Elusive Justice demonstrates how these women continue to face numerous adverse circumstances, including geographical isolation, encroaching capitalist enterprises, and a dearth of social and institutional support. Donny Meertens contends that women’s advocacy organizations must have a prominent role in overseeing these transitional policies in order to create a more just society. By bringing together the underresearched topic of property repayment and the pursuit of gender justice in peacebuilding, these findings have broad significance elsewhere in the world.

About the Author

Donny Meertens

Donny Meertens

Former Fellow;
Associate Professor, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia
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Latin America Program

The Wilson Center’s prestigious Latin America Program provides non-partisan expertise to a broad community of decision makers in the United States and Latin America on critical policy issues facing the Hemisphere. The Program provides insightful and actionable research for policymakers, private sector leaders, journalists, and public intellectuals in the United States and Latin America. To bridge the gap between scholarship and policy action, it fosters new inquiry, sponsors high-level public and private meetings among multiple stakeholders, and explores policy options to improve outcomes for citizens throughout the Americas. Drawing on the Wilson Center’s strength as the nation’s key non-partisan policy forum, the Program serves as a trusted source of analysis and a vital point of contact between the worlds of scholarship and action.  Read more