Swarthmore College Department of

Peace & Conflict Studies Blog

Social Justice Speaker Series at Haverford College


Carlos Castresana

Public Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Spain

Carlos Castresana, Public Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Spain, has dedicated most of his career to Criminal Law. As Prosecutor against organized crime, he confronted the most powerful transnational cartels dealing with drug trafficking and money laundering. Subsequently, as Anticorruption Prosecutor, he indicted high-ranking officers and businessmen including, notably, former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. In his capacity as representative of the Spanish Union of Progressive Prosecutors, Castresana crafted and filed on behalf of the victims the lawsuits that resulted in the arrest of former Argentinian dictator, General Jorge Videla — who spent the rest of his life in prison– and Chilean dictator, General Augusto Pinochet — who was indicted and stripped of his immunity by the House of Lords.

 In 2007, at the request of the UN, Castresana was appointed Commissioner Against Impunity in Guatemala, a post with the rank of Assistant Secretary General. Guatemala is a conflict-ridden society pervaded by violence and a 98% impunity rate. During his tenure as Commissioner, Castresana oversaw the capture of more than 150 gangsters, drug traffickers, politicians, businessmen and high ranking civil and military officers, including former President Alfonso Portillo who was later extradited to the US; Castresana also intervened to prevent a likely coup d’etat by solving the murder of lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg. CICIG brought to trial seven high impact cases achieving convictions in each, and forcing Castresana to resign and flee Guatemala. In recognition of his tireless work on behalf of victims of violence and the rule of law, Castresana has been awarded the Great Cross of Guatemala, The French Legion of Honor, The Star of Solidarity from Italy and the Medal of Civil Merit from Spain.

This Semester, Carlos Castresana is a visiting Professor at Haverford College where he is teaching a course on International Criminal Law and co-teaching a course on Transitional Justice.


A Three Lecture Series

The Quest for Justice:

Our journey to Ithaca, towards a more just and safer world


The Force of Reason vs. the Reason of Force

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Chase Auditorium – 5:30 – 7:00 pm

Reception to follow: CPGC Café, Stokes Hall

 Where are we coming from?  From victor’s justice at Nuremberg to victim’s justice with Pinochet, or how to prosecute a criminal dictator without having previously defeated him, without governmental support, for the simple sake of justice.


Building Sustainable Peaceful Societies

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Stokes Auditorium – 5:30 – 7:00 pm

 Where are we now? Guatemala and the CICIG (International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala): touching the untouchables, showing that justice can be brought equally to all, even in the most unexpected of places.  Democracy consists of free elections but also effective law enforcement. How do we resolve conflict with the tools of the rule of law instead of turning to violence?


Sailing in Unchartered Waters

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Chase Auditorium – 5:30 – 7:00 pm

Where should we go from here? How do we work towards a world with more legal certainty and less political discretion? 1776 represents the birth of a nation, and also the foundation of the democratic culture of rule of law, where human rights constituted the core social contract.  Since 9/11 the United States has been navigating unchartered waters; it needs to rectify previous wrongdoings and retrieve its compass.  Moral leadership is a precondition of political leadership, especially if the US is to lead its allies in strengthening rather than undermining international justice mechanisms.