Fellow Since 1995
Red de Justicia Comunitaria
This profile was prepared when Edgar Ardila was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1995.
The New Idea
In order to establish the rule of law in a meaningful way in Colombia, a country marked by social conflict and violence, Edgar Ardila is developing a community-based alternative to the state judicial system. He is working with local communities to empower their own institutions to resolve their internal conflicts and develop a new culture of peaceful co-existence. His work reflects a mindfulness that many of the conflicts in any one community result from external forces or policies that are not within local control. The solution at the micro level-the family or village-therefore, must take its context in the larger society into account. Edgar is creating mechanisms that he calls "communal justice" to reduce violence at two levels. First is a lateral dimension, in which he mediates between different communities in order to identify common objectives and articulate collective efforts where their separate experiences overlap. The accompanying vertical consideration, the macro-level analysis, looks at the relationship between local communities and other entities that are at least as powerful and more distant: the Colombian government institutions such as the police, for example, and global social patterns including the United States as a factor in Colombia's drug trade.