Political Genocide

John Dugas, Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership Associate Professor of Political Science, describes the attempt in Colombia, beginning in the mid-1980s, to “murder” an entire political group—the leftist, legal, legitimate and electorally successful political party, Union Patriótica (UP)—by means of the systematic targeted killing of more than 3,000 of its members. In response, UP survivors have successfully advocated for the criminalization of “political genocide,” thereby giving to the world a unique legal instrument to help prevent human rights abuses, to pursue justice and legal redress, and to hold perpetrators of the crime accountable. This little known story carries implications that stretch far beyond Colombia’s borders, because peace anywhere depends on peoples’ confidence to take part in political processes without fear of extermination.