Victims of Terrorism

Victims of Terrorism in Europe

Strengthening Peace and the Memory of the Victims of Terrorism: Efforts and Perspectives in the Basque Country

José Luis de la Cuesta Arzamendi, from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), made a contribution to the 2012 Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology, in the category “Plenary Speakers,” under the title “Strengthening Peace and the Memory of the Victims of Terrorism: Efforts and Perspectives in the Basque Country”. Here is the abstract: In October 20, 2011 E.T.A. announced a final end of its 43 years of armed activity. The communiquée was preceded by the Declaration of a group of international experts, promoted by the Contact group, which was directed by the international mediator Brian Currin, that had been approved by the so called “International Peace Conference”, celebrated three days before in San Sebastian. Efforts aimed at achieving peace in the Basque Country had repeatedly taken place since the Spanish transition and particularly after the approval of the Democratic Constitution (1978) and the Statute of Autonomy for the Basque Country (1979). Leaving aside the diverse pardons and amnesties, approved during the political transition after the Dictator's death (November 20, 1975), many attempts towards a negotiated resolution of ETA's terrorism took place in Spain. The milestones in the process were the dissolution of ETA politico-militar in 1981, the talks in Algiers (1989), the contacts between the Spanish Government and ETA in Zurich (1999) and the “Peace process” occurred in Geneva (2006) – after three years without terrorist attacks and with the approval of the Spanish Parliament and the support of the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue Henri Dunnant The various agreements among the political parties and, particularly, the Basque social reaction against the ETA, that became explicit and massive with the assassination of Miguel Angel Blanco in 1997, should also be mentioned in this context, along with the success of the police and political intervention against ETA and ETA's entourage, where the constitutionality of several of the measures applied have been the object of a great juridical controversy.

More about the contribution

As the end of the terrorist activity progressively consolidates, along with the requirement of full dissolution of the armed organization, assuring and strengthening peace – that was already, as it has been said, a major issue in the Basque country's life – has obviously attained the highest relevance. Surmounting violence is a complex process and usually requires covering different phases in order to obtain resolution of the conflicts generated by it and to approach the final aim: the development and consolidation of an integral culture of human rights. This extended and permanently reinforced culture is, in fact, the best guarantee of assurance and support of a sustainable and long lasting peace. In any case, giving an adequate answer to the basic requirements of justice constitutes a necessary point of departure in this process, where assuring to the victims an integral reparation and full access to justice, avoiding impunity and establishing effective guarantees of non repetition constitute unavoidable points of attention. The centrality of victims of terrorism, and their right to truth and memory need always to be specially emphasized and addressed in this sense. Victimization occurred by way of abuse of power generated in the context of the politically motivated violence should also be the object of care, not only looking back to the past, but also learning from the experience in order to build efficient systems of prevention and treatment of the victims of human rights abuse now and into the future.

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Further Reading

  • “Strengthening Peace and the Memory of the Victims of Terrorism: Efforts and Perspectives in the Basque Country”, by José Luis de la Cuesta arzamendi (Proceedings)

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