A Vital Player in the Process for Building Peace in Colombia

UM College of Arts & Sciences professor to be a special advisor to Colombia’s president as the country continues peace talks with FARC leaders

Dr. Elvira Maria Restrepo, assistant professor of geography and regional studies at the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences, is taking a public service leave for one year to be a special advisor to Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos while the government continues its peace process with FARC guerrillas.

“I am very excited to join President Santos’ team as they work to build a cohesive plan for peace in Colombia,” said Dr. Restrepo. “This is a unique and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Colombian government is very close to signing an agreement after more than five decades of war and more than three years of negotiations. As a member of the team, I will be responsible for creating strategies to build peace and implement post-conflict initiatives.”

Dr. Restrepo, who lived in Colombia for 25 years, is an expert in Colombian politics and its justice system. She has written and published numerous research articles and books on Colombia, such as The Colombian Criminal Justice in Crisis: Fear and Distrust (2003), which focuses on the country’s failing judiciary system. She also wrote the entry for Colombia in the first Encyclopedia of Transitional Justice (S. Lavinia and N. Nedelsky, editors, Cambridge University Press, 2013), as well as her most recent publication related to peace building, Against all Odds: Women Victims of Conflict in Colombia (Palgrave Communications, 2016).

Dr. Restrepo will take her leave from the University of Miami in June and plans to travel back and forth from Colombia to her home in South Florida once she takes on the role as special advisor to President Santos.

“I hope this is a successful mission,” she said. “I care deeply about this issue and am a great believer that Colombia can make this peace process happen. This endeavor will be a restructuring of the individual and collective players in Colombia. My immediate goal is to advise the government and help initiate pilot projects geared to societal reconciliation, before scaling them up to the national level.”

April 19, 2016