Children and Youth: Lessons from the Colombian Truth Commission

Hosted by the Latin America and Caribbean Centre (LACC)

FAW 9.05, Fawcett House, LSE


Paola Forero Acosta

Paola Forero Acosta

Political expert from Rosario University

Karen Arteaga Garzón

Karen Arteaga Garzón

Director of Rodeemos el Diálogo in Colombia

The LSE Latin America and Caribbean Centre (LACC), Children Change Colombia, Rodeemos el Dialogo (ReD) and Winchester’s Centre of Religion, Reconciliation and Peace invite you to a roundtable discussion with Paola Forero Acosta, Colombian Human Rights expert who wrote the children and young people chapter of the Colombian Truth Commission Report, and Karen Arteaga Garzón, director of Rodeemos el Diálogo Colombia, an organisation that supported the Colombian Truth Commission’s pedagogy team and Generation V+ (the youth initiative seeking to protect the legacy of the Truth Commission).  

Six months after the investiture of Gustavo Petro, Colombia's first leftist president, our speakers will discuss the findings and recommendations related to children and youth, as well as the role of civil society in the Commission's work and the implementation of some recommendations. 

On the 28th of June 2022, the Colombian Truth Commission released its final report. The report comprises 10 volumes in which the Commission documents the impact that half a century of armed conflict has had in different sectors of Colombian society. It also unveils the pattern of violence and the factors which contributed to repetition of violence. Over three years the Commission collected nearly 30.000 testimonies within and outside Colombia. One of the volumes condenses the findings and over 60 recommendations for overcoming the conflict. Another volume presents the innovative efforts to document exile in 24 countries around the world and another documents gender-based violence and the role of patriarchy in the continuation of the conflict. 

Although all the volumes include testimonies from children and youth, there is a specific volume dedicated to them: No es un mal menor. Niñas, niños y adolescentes en el conflicto armado, “It is not a minor lesser? evil, children and youth in the armed conflict.” This volume is based on almost 3.000 testimonies and has important findings for Colombia and the world to understand the impact of the armed conflict on children and youth, and it offers key recommendations for how children and youth can play a significant role in peace and reconciliation. 

Meet our speakers 

Paola Forero Acosta is a political expert from Rosario University, and a specialist in the Resolution of Conflict with a master’s degree in Peace and Resolution of Conflict Studies from the Javieriana University. She worked as an advisor to the Victims Unit and to the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace in the context of the talks between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – The People’s Army, known as FARC, regarding the Comprehensive System for Peace. Her work in these roles included coordinating teenagers and young people leaving the ranks of FARC and participating in the Specialist Board that oversaw designing the program called “Differential Way of Life”, which worked to ensure that these young people got back their rights. As the child and adolescent care manager for the International Organisation for Migration’s Reintegration and Recruitment Prevention Program, she advised and coordinated the comprehensive protection and rights guarantee approach, with particular emphasis on the reintegration process of children and adolescents. She led the drafting of the volume on children and youth of the Colombian Truth Commission. 

Karen Arteaga Garzón is the Director of Rodeemos el Diálogo (Embrace Dialogue) in Colombia, where she has led the work of Rodeemos el Dialogue with the Truth Commission’s Community of Pedagogical Practices and Generation V+. She holds an MA in political science (University of Los Andes), and she has over 10 years of practitioner experience in peacebuilding, conflict resolution, peace education and citizen participation. She has worked for the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace (OACP) of the Colombian government (2016-2018), supporting territorial peace; the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) (2016), exploring the challenges of transitional justice; and the Ideas for Peace Foundation (FIP) (2013-2015), designing dialogue methodologies and analysing the participation of civil society in the peace process in Colombia. 

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