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Legacies and Lessons of Hybrid Anti-Impunity Missions in Central America

Two experiments of hybrid international-national missions against impunity and corruption in Central America, the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption in Honduras (MACCIH), have generated positive attention in the effort to curb impunity for massive corruption that preserves unequal societies and undermines democratic governance. But their very success has generated a backlash that threatens the potential of this model here and elsewhere. Building upon previous CLALS projects investigating activities and potential impacts of anti-impunity missions in Honduras and El Salvador, this project seeks to address critical knowledge gaps regarding CICIG and MACCIH, as well as what their respective legacies will be for future anti-corruption efforts in the region. In addition, this project examines the work of the International Commission against Impunity in El Salvador (CICIES), particularly the constraints of its mandate and efforts by the current Salvadoran government to interfere in its work.

While both CICIG and MACCIH have garnered headlines regionally and globally, there has been a lack of independent analysis of their work in recent years. This project addresses the gap by producing reports on both missions, in English and Spanish, that examine their overall work, impact, and lessons for future hybrid anti-corruption missions. In addition, the project produces a detailed analysis of Illegal Clandestine Security Apparatuses (CIACS) and CICIG’s work to understand and dismantle their influence in Guatemalan politics and society. 

With support from Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and Seattle International Foundation, this project is led by SIS Associate Professor Charles Call as principal investigator.

El legado de la CICIG: Camino recorrido y alternativas para continuar la lucha contra la corrupción y la impunidad en Guatemala

January 9, 2020 | Guatemala City, Guatemala | Event Recording

Attendees in Guatemala listen to Professor Call's presentation of his findings on CICIG.

The Center launched a report on the legacy of International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) before an audience of 200 at a public event co-hosted by the Instituto Centroamericano de Estudios Fiscales (ICEFI). The report, authored by SIS Professor Charles Call and doctoral candidate Jeffrey Hallock, analyzes the work of CICIG and the lessons that scholars and practitioners can take from it, enriching public debate of the Commission in a highly polarized context. After Professor Call presented the report's findings, a distinguished panel discussed the role of CICIG and further steps to address corruption and impunity in Guatemala: Claudia Samayoa of the Unidad de Defensoras y Defensores de los Derechos Humanos en Guatemala, Doctor Ricardo Sáenz de Tejada, and Judge Haroldo Vásquez, President of the Asociación Guatemalteca de Jueces por la Integridad.

Victims of their own Success? The Lessons of Anti-Impunity Missions in Central America

July 28, 2020 | Event recording

Event speakers, clockwise from top left: Michael Camilleri, Charles Call, Martha Doggett, Claudia Escobar, Juan Gonzalez, and Eric Hershberg.

In collaboration with the Inter-American Dialogue, CLALS presented a panel discussion on the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), and the incipient International Commission against Impunity in El Salvador (CICIES). The panel included Charles Call, SIS Associate Professor; Martha Doggett, former Director of the Americas Division of the UN Department of Political Affairs; Juan Gonzalez, Senior Fellow at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement; and Claudia Escobar, Centennial Fellow at Georgetown University. Learn more about the event.

El legado de la MACCIH en Honduras frente a los desafíos actuales del combate a la corrupción

August 12, 2020 | Watch the recording on the CLALS Facebook page

In collaboration with the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales-Honduras (FLACSO-Honduras), CLALS presented a discussion on the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH). Participants included Charles Call, SIS Associate Professor; Ana María Calderón Boy, Former Interim Spokesperson, MACCIH and Former Special Representative to the Secretary General, OAS; Leticia Salomòn, Researcher at the Centro de Documentación de Honduras (CEDOH); and Eugenio Sosa, Professor and Researcher at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH). Professor Call presented the findings of his research on the MACCIH and lessons for future anti-corruption initiatives. These findings were published as part of the CLALS Working Paper Series, and are available in English and Spanish.

Factores en el Combate a la Corrupción en Guatemala y Honduras

March 25, 2021 | Watch recording on the CLALS Facebook page

Panelists from the March event

In collaboration with Alianza por las Reformas and Organización Ayudamos Honduras (OAH), CLALS organized a discussion on the state of anti-corruption efforts in Guatemala and Honduras, the agenda of activists and prosecutors involved in this work, and how the Biden administration might affect these efforts regionally. Participants included: Laura Aguiar, Secretary General of the University Student Association at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala; Gabriela Blen, Executive Director of OAH; Chuck Call, SIS Associate Professor; Eric Hershberg, CLALS Director; Juan Francisco Sandoval, head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI) in Guatemala; and Luis Javier Santos, head of the Special Prosecutor’s Unit Against Corrupt Networks (UFERCO) in Honduras.

Cómo Mejorar los Procesos de Selección para Combatir la Corrupción y la Impunidad? 

May 18, 2022 | Event recording

CLALS hosted a webinar with Seattle International Foundation where panelists discussed the importance of a transparent review of candidates' merits in the selection process, and how such reviews can be obstructed by groups who seek to maintain high levels of impunity in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Speakers included CLALS Director Eric Hershberg, SIF Project Manager Mirte Postema, CEJIL Director for Central America and Mexico Claudia Paz y Paz, Cristosal Head of Anticorruption and Justice Ruth López, and Consejo Nacional Anticorrupción Executive Director Gabriela Castellanos.