Professor Rachel López has received a 2016-17 Fulbright Scholarship that will enable her to study transitional justice mechanisms in the wake of the genocide of indigenous Mayans in Guatemala.
López is among just a handful of scholars to receive the Fulbright Scholarship Program’s Global Flex Award, which will support her research and scholarly collaborations with colleagues in Guatemala and Spain.
Through the scholarship, López will study the potential for fruitful interplay between amnesty/truth commissions and criminal prosecutions, which are often viewed as mutually exclusive strategies for obtaining justice in the aftermath of mass atrocities.
López will work with scholars at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala, where survivors of a 1982 massacre awaited justice for decades and the former dictator who ordered the killings had become demented and was eventually declared unfit to be sentenced for genocide. López will also collaborate with colleagues at the Autonomous University in Madrid, where the Spanish judiciary had agreed under the principle of universal jurisdiction to hear a case against the Guatemalan generals.
Through the six month scholarship that begins in June, López hopes to identify best practices that truth commissions can implement to ensure that the evidence they gather and the findings they make will be useful to human rights attorneys who seek to bring trials.
López, director of the Community Lawyering Clinic, has focused her scholarship on methods of accountability for human rights violations and reforms to transitional justice mechanisms. Her publications include “The Judicial Expansion of American Exceptionalism,” in the Duke Forum for Law & Social Change, and “The (Re)collection of Memory after Mass Murder and the Dilemma for Transitional Justice,” forthcoming in the New York University Journal of International Law and Politics.
The Fulbright Scholarship, administered through the U.S. Department of State, is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the federal government with the aim of developing global understanding. Many Fulbright scholars have gone on to hold prestigious posts as judges, heads of state, ambassadors and cabinet officials.