Theory and Praxis of Reparations: Perspectives from Canada and Colombia

Vendredi, 4 février, 2022 14:30à16:30

(En anglais seulement) The Centre for Human Rights & Legal Pluralism presents

  • Me Éloïse Décoste, Trudeau Foundation Scholar and L.L.D. candidate (UQÀM)
  • Me Marjolaine Olwell, S.J.D. candidate (U Arizona) and legal advisor to the Specific Claims Tribunal
  • Yuri Alexander Romaña-Rivas, D.C.L. candidate (McGill) and O’Brien Graduate Fellow
  • Laura Baron-Mendoza, D.C.L. candidate (McGill) and O’Brien Graduate Fellow

Moderated by Frédéric Mégret

Zoom. All are welcome

About the talk

In recent decades, claims for reparations of historic injustices have amplified, whether in the context of colonial wrongdoing against Indigenous Peoples, reparation for enslavement or compensation for victims of discriminatory laws targeting specific minority groups. Meanwhile, the emergence of transitional justice has sparked the normative development of the right to reparations. Drawing from the cases of Canada and Colombia, this panel will seek to address some of the core legal questions related to the State’s obligation to provide reparations for massive and/or State-sanctioned violations of human rights and breaches of International Humanitarian Law.

About the panelists

Éloïse Décoste is a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation scholar and a LL.D. candidate at the Département des sciences juridiques of the Université du Québec à Montréal. Her doctoral research investigates the State’s obligation to provide reparation for colonial genocide in the context of ongoing settler colonialism. Until recently, she acted as Law and Policy Analyst for Quebec Native Women, a grassroots indigenous women’s organisation that she has represented both domestically and internationally. Previously, Éloïse was a legal advisor to the Canadian Specific Claims Tribunal. She also worked for the legal division of the International Committee of the Red Cross as well as for the office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Éloïse holds an LL.M. suma cum laude from the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights as well as a bijuridical law degree and a B.A. in Political Sciences and Environmental Studies from McGill University. She will respond to some of the main theoretical and practical objections to Indigenous peoples’ claims from reparations in the context of settler colonialism.


Marjolaine Olwell currently acts as a legal advisor to the Canadian Specific Claims Tribunal. She is an S.J.D. candidate at the James E. Rogers College of Law, University of Arizona, in the Indigenous People’s Law and Policy Program, where she was an Assistant Professor of Practice. Previously, she was the lawyer in charge of the Rapporteurship on the rights of Indigenous peoples at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Marjolaine also worked for a boutique firm specialized in Aboriginal law, where she notably represented survivors of the residential school system. She holds an LL.M. from the University of Arizona as well as a law degree and anundergraduate degree in International Relations and International Law from the Université du Québec à Montréal. Marjolaine will discuss the reparation schemes implemented in Canada to address the legacy of the Indian Residential School System.


Yuri Alexander Romaña-Rivas is an Afro-Colombian lawyer specialized in International Human Rights Law and Transitional Justice.He is currently a D.C.L. candidate at McGill’s Faculty of Law and an O’Brien Fellow at the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. His research focuses on the need to strengthen Colombia’s transitional justice reparation structures to effectively compensate and restore the rights of Afro-Colombian communities who are victims of the armed conflict. Prior to joining the McGill Law Faculty, Yuri worked for the Chamber of Amnesty and Pardon at the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) in Colombia. He has also worked as a human rights specialist for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Yuri holds an LL.M. in International Law and Legal Studies from the American University, a LL.B. from the Technological University of Chocó and a certificate on Afro-Latin American Studies from Harvard University. He will discuss how the two main structures that compose the reparation scheme developed in Colombia following the 2016 Peace Agreement have approached reparations for Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities. 


Laura Baron Mendoza is a Colombian lawyer specialized in conflict resolution and currently works as a human rights advocacy officer for MADRE. She is also pursuing a D.C.L. at the McGill Faculty of Law, where she is an O’Brien Fellow at the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. Her research focuses on the socio-legal challenges posed by the interactions between non-state armed actors and state law. This subject derives from her individual work with former members of non-state armed groups in the Urabá antioqueño Region (North-west of Colombia). In the past, she acted as the legal team coordinator for Avocats Sans Frontières Canada in Colombia.She has also worked for the High Commissioner for Peace in Colombia during the peace talks between the government and the FARC-EP. Laura holds an LL.M. from the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and a law degree from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. She will discuss the Colombian reparation scheme from the perspective of those who participated in the armed conflict, namely ex-combatants and former members of non-state armed groups.

For more information, please contact the //human.rights [at] mcgill.ca.">CHRLP

We hope you can attend!

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