Home>"Transitional Justice and Property: Inextricably Linked", by Professor Helena Alviar Garcia


"Transitional Justice and Property: Inextricably Linked", by Professor Helena Alviar Garcia

Syria – October 2017: Syrian refugees in the Syrian border region are struggling to survive in cold weather conditions. (credits: Mehmet Ali Poyraz / Shutterstock)

‘In the grand bargain struck between the apartheid government and the A.N.C., headed by Nelson Mandela, a transfer of power was carried out peacefully, disproving predictions of civil war and earning Mr. Mandela accolades as a visionary peacemaker. But the deal was reached on what many South Africans today consider Pyrrhic terms: The black majority was allowed to control politics, but much of the country’s economic resources, including land, has remained in the hands of white South Africans and a small group of other elites.’ (Onishi N, Gebrekidan S. 2018. “They eat money”: how Mandela’s political heirs grow rich off corruption. New York Times, April 16.)

‘There is nothing that we are negotiating (in the peace process) that should worry either foreign or local investors… We are not negotiating our political institutions, our economic model or private property. Nobody will be expropriated.’ (Santos dice a inversionistas que Colombia no es “castrochavista.” El Colombiano, Sept. 22. 2014)

These two quotes lay bare the tension unveiled by peace processes around the world and raise a fundamental question: To what extent should the existent distribution of wealth be part of a transitional justice negotiation? And, if this issue is, as most often, left out of the table, what are the consequences that may follow?

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