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New England Law Center Organizes Business and Human Rights Meeting in Colombia
Professor Laplante directs the center.
Jillian Carson '17
Jillian Carson '17 

Revised-May 6, 2017: The Center for International Law and Policy collaborated with the world’s leading think tank on business and human rights to organize an expert meeting in Colombia. Professor Lisa Laplante, center director, and Jillian Carson ’17, project assistant to the center’s Business and Human Rights Project, were among those overseeing and presenting at the “Collective Construction of Truth and Reconciliation in Colombia: Understanding the Role of Business” symposium, February 20-21, in Bogota.

The Center for International Law and Policy enables students to join the effort to hold corporations accountable for actions that negatively impact human rights, in part through conducting research in collaboration with the Institute for Human Rights and Business, the symposium co-organizer.

Last year’s peace agreement is allowing Colombia to emerge from a half-century of conflict with the FARC guerrilla group, but the hard work of reconciliation and reintegration remains. The symposium focused on transitional justice topics, including criminal justice, truth gathering, reparations, and institutional reform, in order to recommend ways that the private sector can aid the process. In particular, the symposium sought to explore how a focus on businesses can be brought into the transitional justice process, which is a largely unexplored policy and practice. 

“For the peace process to succeed, it’s vital that businesses are accountable and have avenues for participation,” said Professor Laplante. “The center has worked for the past year with the Institute for Human Rights and Business on its advocacy work in Colombia, and we’re proud to have co-organized and help lead this symposium, which featured experts from Europe, Latin America, and South Africa.”

The center’s contributions to the meeting included preparation of a briefing report on Transitional Justice and Corporate Accountability, which arose out of a request by the Institute for Human Rights and Business to CILP to provide an initial overview of the relationship between the fields of transitional justice and business and human rights. This research was conducted by a team of New England Law students including Carson, Rachel DeCapita ’17, Tequila Bester ’17, Stephanie Naranjo ’18, Laura Rodriguez ’18, Sama Sayej ’18, and Madhanga Wickramasinghe ’17.

In addition, Professor Laplante was the principal author of a conference concept paper, Collective Building of Truth and Reconciliation: The Contributions and Challenges of Private Sector Participation in Colombia’s Transitional Justice Process, to which Carson also contributed.

Briefing Report on Transitional Justice and Corporate Accountability

Concept paper, Collective Building of Truth and Reconciliation: The Contributions and Challenges of Private Sector Participation in Colombia’s Transitional Justice Process