A Tug of War: Pursuing Justice Amid Armed Conflict

Journal article

Drange, Bård (2022) A Tug of War: Pursuing Justice Amid Armed Conflict, Nordic Journal of Human Rights 40 (2): 346–364.

Open access at the publisher’s website

Despite its prevalence in armed conflicts globally, the pursuit of justice and human rights during armed conflict has receivedrelatively little attention compared with efforts taken post-conflict.In this article, I discuss the trajectory of state-led measures totackle human rights abuses while violence is ongoing, with afocus on the interplay between actors seeking to expose andthose seeking to conceal human rights abuses. This expose–conceal framework is used to study the search for justice forabuses committed by paramilitary groups in Colombia in the2000s. I argue that various domestic and international humanrights advocates and civil society organisations clashed with theColombian Government over questions of accountability.Persistent efforts to expose or conceal abuses produced a tug-of-war dynamic, where the two sides pulled the political debate andjudicial frameworks in their preferred direction. This articlecontributes a conflict studies perspective on the establishment ofnational-level institutions to advance human rights in a context ofhigh impunity and amid armed conflict. Going forward, I arguethat more attention to the during-conflict period can enhance ourunderstanding of how the pursuit of justice plays out after conflict.

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