On December 12, ICTJ’s head of office for Colombia María Camila Moreno received the Alfonso López Michelsen Award for her dedicated work to advance peace and uphold international human rights and humanitarian law.
The Colombia civil society organization Vivamos Humanos conferred the award, which it created in 2009, at a ceremony in Bogotá. Vivamos Humanos brings together members of the private and public sectors together with international actors and civil society to develop peacebuilding initiatives in Colombia.
Other recipients of the honor include Teresita Gaviria, director of Madres de la Candelaria and victim of the country’s conflict; Mario Enrique Gómez, director of social and human rights projects at the Restrepo Barco Foundation; Olga Lucía Quintero, a social leader from the rural area of Catatumbo; and Todd Howland, former representative of the High Commissioner to the United Nations for Human Rights in Colombia.
María Camila Moreno, who has devoted 25 years of her life to peacebuilding, accepted the award also on behalf of ICTJ, which played a vital role in brokering a political exit from Colombia’s armed conflict and has been an instrumental partner in the implementation of the final peace agreement between the government and FARC guerrillas.
In her acceptance speech, Moreno stressed the need for profound change in Colombian society. “The work that has yet to be done in Colombia in order to attain peace requires a deep transformation of our paradigms,” she said. She invited attendees in the auditorium to exercise empathy and compassion not from a place of moral superiority, but out of humility and a recognition that everyone is imperfect.
Speaking about the progress of the transitional justice process in Colombia, Moreno encouraged those present not to give up on the struggle for peace. “It has only been three years. What international experience has taught us is that transitional processes in the world tend to be long and difficult, sometimes taking many generations,” she explained. The achievements so far of the peace agreement and the challenges currently facing the process, she said, should both inspire Colombians and motivate them to build a better, safer, and more equitable country.
PHOTO: The former president of Colombia's Constitutional Court, Alfredo Beltrán, presents the 2019 Alfonso López Michelsen Award to María Camila Moreno at a ceremony in Bogotá. (ICTJ/María Margarita Rivera)