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December 1st, 2014

Professor Robert Mnookin

Chair of the Executive Committee
Program on Negotiation
Harvard Law School

Dear Professor Mnookin,

As Colombians, international scholars, human rights advocates,

researchers, and Colombianists, we want to express our deep regret and concern
that the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School has decided to invite Mr.
Alejandro Ordoez, Colombias Inspector General, to offer a talk on December 5th
on the current peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Havana.
Harvard University prides itself as a university that promotes scientific
research, a space in which the pursuit of knowledge trumps divisive dogmatism.
Unfortunately, Mr. Ordoez, in his writings, public statements, and actions as a
public official in Colombia, has shown himself to uphold the latter and has shown
little respect for the former. Furthermore, he has worked to derail the peace
negotiations at every turn and we, by providing him a platform at Harvard Law
School, are amplifying his campaign against the peace process. Surely, this is not
your intention. We respectfully ask that you reconsider this invitation in light of the
following facts that shed light on how problematic the figure of Mr. Ordoez has
been in Colombia, or at least rethink the format of the discussion to allow for a
richer debate.
First, Mr. Ordoez's character has been marked by a formation of
censorship. He has been accused of participating in the burning of "immoral
magazines and books", which allegedly included texts by Marx, Rousseau and
Garca Mrquez, allegations that he has not rejected, but instead acknowledged.1
Colombian law stipulates that two of the Inspector Generals main duties are
to protect human rights, and ensure compliance with the Political Constitution, the
law, judicial decisions and administrative directives. However, while in office as
Inspector General, he has not only denied particular minorities their human rights,
but also refused to comply with the Constitution and the judicial decisions related to
those minorities. For example, international human rights NGOs, such as Womens
Link Worldwide, have denounced Mr. Ordoez and his offices deliberate

Daniel Coronell, "La Noche de la Hoguera", February 23, 2012 Revista Semana, available at:

obstruction of womens human rights, such as the right to get an abortion in

situations that the Constitutional Court has clearly adjudicated as legal.2
Similarly, Mr. Ordoez has acted against the Constitution and the Law by
constantly acting and expressing himself against the human rights of minorities
such as the LGBTI community. Colombia Diversa, an NGO working on LGBTI
rights, denounced the fact that a public official who refers to same sex couples as
exponents of paraphilia or with aberrational behaviors is the same officer called
to protect LGBTI rights.3 More recently, and despite a decision by the Constitutional
Court recognizing that same sex couples form a family, Mr Ordoez, acting in his
capacity as Inspector General, has initiated judicial actions against judges and
public notaries who have performed same sex marriages.4
Mr. Ordoezs non-compliance with his constitutional duties as Inspector
General has been so extreme that the Colombian Constitutional Court has
compelled him explicitly to obey judicial decisions on abortion,5 sexual education,
LGBTI rights and access to sexual and reproductive health services for women,
calling on him to separate religious beliefs from his duties as a public official.6
As Inspector General Mr. Ordoez has also used his power to punish
political foes based on their ideology. In fact, Human Rights Watch addressed a
letter to Mr. Ordoez, expressing concern about a disciplinary investigation
conducted against the human rights defender and left-wing politician Ivan Cepeda.7
More recently, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights granted that
precautionary measures be extended to Gustavo Petro, Bogota's progressive
mayor, after Mr. Ordoez demoted him from office and banned him from public
office for fifteen years. The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights found that
mayor Petros rights to political participation and due process were endangered.8 In
contrast, according to a Human Rights Watch report on Colombia, the

In a shadow report presented to the UN Committee of Human Rights signed by Womens Link Worldwide
between other NGOs advocating for womens rights, organizations stated that: Inspector General Mr.
Alejandro Ordoez, refuses to comply with the Constitutional Court decision to duly investigate public
servants who have violated the right of a woman to have access to a legal abortion. Report on violence
against women in Colombia presented in the 99th period of sessions of the UN Committee on Human
Rights, July 2010. Available at:
Colombia Diversa, Shadow report on LGBTI rights presented to the UN Committee on Human Rights,
2010, available at:
Procuradura radic tutela en contra del primer matrimonio homosexual en Colombia El Espectador,
September 28th, 2013. Available at: ttp://
See: Colombian Constitutional Court. Decision T-627/12. Justice: Humberto Sierra Porto.
Several emisions of newscast CMI la noticia, Available at: See also El mal momento del reelegido Procurador
General Vanguardia Liberal, Available at:
Human Rights Watch, Carta al Procurador General de Colombia. Dec. 2013. Available at:
Interamerican Comission of Human Rigths, Resolucin 5/2014, Precautionary Measure No. 374-13,
Available at:

Inspector General has not been efficient in its investigation and sanctioning of
politicians linked with right wing paramilitary groups.9
Lastly, we want to express our genuine concern that the Program on
Negotiation provides Mr. Ordoez, who has vested political and ideological
interests which he has acknowledged publicly, a platform to legitimize his views,
which have been openly hostile of the peace process with no critical interlocutor to
hold him to account. His participation is highly problematic considering that the
peace process is at a very sensitive stage, and that though it is necessary and
valuable to provide spaces for discussion, Mr. Ordoez does not represent a
position within it (he does not represent the government, the army, the FARC, or
the victims). Nevertheless, by inviting him, his personal opinion could be
understood as representing a particular group involved in the peace process. From
both moral and scholarly perspectives we find the event featuring Mr. Ordoez as
the only speaker to be objectionable and hope you will consider cancelling the
event. In case you decide to go forward with it, we wish you rethink its format on
the grounds highlighted above, allowing for an open debate, with ideally another
speaker and Q&A so that Mr. Ordoez minoritary position is not the only one on the

Human Rights Watch, Resumen de Pas: Colombia, Jan.2014,