CECS seminar with Justices Carlos Bernal, Colombian Constitutional Court

In 2016 the Colombian Government signed a Peace Agreement with the FARC Guerrilla for ending a half a Century long internal armed conflict. Following the Constitutional Amendment 1/2016, the Congress implemented the Agreement by means of constitutional amendments, laws, and Presidential decrees, via an expedite special legislative procedure for peace (known as fast track).

The Peace Agreement and the Constitutional Amendment 1/2016 subjected the implementation norms to constitutional review by the Constitutional Court. Those norms imply fundamental political and legal changes for Colombia: the end of the internal war, the reincorporation of guerrilla members to the civil society, the transformation of the FARC into a political party, special criminal treatment for former Guerrilla members and members of the military forces, programs of land restitution, and the allocation of material and immaterial reparations to victims. Those changes serve the purpose of facilitating peace, as a condition of democratic constitutionalism. However, at the same time, they implied profound limitations to basic elements of the Colombian Constitution, such as the enforcement of criminal law or the full reparation to victims. This tension created a dilemma that the Constitutional Court ought to navigate in the constitutional review of the implementation of the Peace Agreement. According to the dilemma, if the standard of review is too weak, democratic constitutionalism is at risk of deterioration; if the standard of review is too strong, the transition is rendered impossible and peace, as condition of democratic constitutionalism, is endangered. This paper aims to analyse how the Colombian Constitutional Court faced this dilemma in the constitutional review of the norms that implemented the Peace Agreement.


Carlos Bernal is Justice of the Colombian Constitutional Court. His qualifications include a LL.B. from the University Externado of Colombia (Bogotá – Colombia) (1996), a S.J.D. from the University of Salamanca (Spain) (2001), and a M.A. (2008) and a Ph.D. in Philosophy (2011) from the University of Florida (U.S.A). He has held a visiting professorship at the University of Paris X (Nanterre), and Senior Research Fellowships at the Yale Law School and the Max Plack Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (Heidelberg).

His scholarship focuses on constitutional rights’ interpretation, comparative constitutional change, general jurisprudence –in particular on the intersection between social ontology and legal theory–, and the philosophical foundations of tort law. At present time he carries out a research project on constitutionalism and democratic participation by means of online platforms. He supervises doctoral students in comparative constitutional law and legal theory.


  • Introduction – Chair
  • Antoni Abat Ninet, Professor of Constitutional Law, Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen
  • The Constitutional Review of the Implementation of the Peace Agreement in Colombia by Carlos Bernal, Justice, Colombian Constitutional Court
  • Plenary Discussion: Q & A Session


For participation in the seminar please use this registration form no later than 7 January 2019 , 12:00.