by Rhodri C. Williams
In a signing ceremony attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos ratified the Victims’ Law last Saturday, fulfilling his unexpected and ambitious post-election pledge to enact a property restitution bill. Commentary on TN has highlighted both the unprecedented nature of this effort and the formidable obstacles it faces.
The fate of this legislation takes on additional significance against the background of current debates over the post-conflict ‘right to restitution’ proclaimed most prominently in the 2005 Pinheiro Principles. As early enthusiasm about restitution has faded, the need to respond to prevailing humanitarian trends such as urban vulnerability and protracted displacement has led to an increased emphasis on local integration as a durable solution. The extent to which programmatic restitution – and the promotion of voluntary return – remains seen as a viable complementary strategy to local integration efforts may depend on the outcome of the increasingly rare test cases, such as Colombia, that tackle this challenge head on.