Prof. Mark Osiel, Aliber Family Chair in Law, recently spent several days in Bogotá, Colombia, consulting with officials at the High Commissioner for Peace, Office of the President, concerning legal issues involved in ending the country’s longstanding civil war. This ongoing conflict has claimed, by all accounts, more than six million victims over the last sixty years. During the preceding generation alone, a deadly mix of drug cartels, right-wing paramilitaries, leftist revolutionary movements, and state military campaigns to combat all three of these well-armed forces have driven over two hundred thousand small farmers from their lands. As the government today negotiates a promising peace agreement with the revolutionaries, these victims of “internal displacement” seek legal remedies for their far-reaching losses. With dozens of victims themselves in attendance, Osiel addressed an audience of several hundred public officials on this subject. He advocated a victims’ trust fund, administered through a “mass claims mechanism” with simplified, expeditious procedures, on the model employed by U.S. government in compensating victims of the 9/11 terror attacks.
This was Osiel’s third trip to Bogotá in recent years, to lecture and consult on related matters. While there, he also spoke to a gathering of law students at the Universidad de los Andes and participated in a doctoral dissertation examination at that institution.
Osiel is a leading scholar in the study of legal strategies by which countries respond to such mass atrocities as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. He is the author of several books and many scholarly articles on the subject.