by Jenny Cook, United States of America

Yesterday we were privileged to hear from not one but two world leaders in transitional justice. It was a great crossroad between two very important subjects: justice and truth. Juan Mendez spoke in great depth about both and their connections and distinctions between each other. In his concluding remarks, he said that the shadow of the past casted a shadow on the future of the Argentine population. After many trials and a truth commission, reparations and reform they are in the process of finding both justice and truth, healing their wounds, and becoming a prosperous country.

When Charles Villa-Vicencio entered the room, with an illuminating and captivating presence, he opened the discussion of our second case study, South Africa. He spoke honestly about the past and we felt the love for his country and his people. He started with a story about his young grandson that is patiently awaiting his new baby sister and goes with his mother to get an ultrasound. He tells his Opa, Charles, that he has to see her in the screen so that when she comes he will know who she is. Mr. Villa- Vicencio uses this as an analogy for South Africa. He says, you must look into the womb or the history of what happened in order to understand the present and know where you are going in the future.

Peacemakers should try to keep this key point in mind; that we have to go back to the womb, back to the beginning, look into the history of the conflict before we can start looking at the present and future. We have to know the history before we can know what processes and mechanisms are needed to achieve truth and justice, leading to a peaceful society.