In 2019, the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances officially adopted the ‘UN Guiding Principles on the Search for Disappeared Persons’ (CED/C/7). The document, which offers 16 Principles to states wanting to better fulfil their duties to prevent, investigate, offer information and create real participation, was informed by comments and consultation from civil society. The pre-drafting process included two gatherings in Colombia at which relatives, forensic practitioners, human rights defenders, prosecutors and other experienced searchers met to talk through the myriad challenges that disappearance presents around the Americas. The discussions laid bare the real dilemmas involved in crafting a protocol capable of placing necessary limits and demands on State action, without constraining agility, capable moreover of addressing both recent and longstanding disappearances. This discussion will provide a personal view of the ‘pinch points’ in the process of campaigning and searching for the disappeared, that were laid bare by the experience of those meetings.
About the Speaker
Cath Collins is a Professor of Transitional Justice at Ulster University’s Transitional Justice Institute since March 2013. She was previously Associate Professor of Politics at the Universidad Diego Portales, Chile, where she founded and still directs the Transitional Justice Observatory: www.derechoshumanos.udp.cl. Prof Collins’s publications include the books ‘Transitional Justice in Latin America’ (co-authored and co-edited, 2016)'The Politics of Memory in Chile' (2014, co-edited), and 'Post-Transitional Justice: Human Rights Trials in Chile and El Salvador (2010). She is currently involved in an Open Society Foundation supported research project on state responses to enforced disappearance in Latin America about the search for victims of disappearance. She teaches and supervises in the UK and Chile on Latin American politics, international criminal justice, human rights, and transitional justice.