Ana Laura Zavala Guillén


Thesis Title:

Geographies of Dispossession: Territory, Law and Race in the Last Palenque (Colombia)
Supervisor: Dr Eric Olund and Dr Daniel Hammett
Funding: University Prize Scholarship, SLAS (Society for Latin American Studies)

Research Interests

Human rights, transitional justice, gender justice, territorial justice, conflict resolution, international development, reparation for victims of gross human rights violations, participatory research methods (participatory mapping in local communities)

Conference Participation

  • Presenter: The role of academia in the challenges facing Afro-descendent communities in the Colombian Caribbean in the restitution of their lands in the context of the Peace Agreement, University of Glasgow, 6 – 7 April 2017, Society for Latin American Studies, Glasgow, Scotland.
  • Presenter: Participatory Geographies: Territorial Reparation for Maroon Communities in the Aftermath of the Colombian armed conflict, University of Cardiff, 19 - 21 April 2017, RGS-IBG Postgraduate Forum Mid-Term Conference 2017, Cardiff, Wales.
  • Presenter: Research Impact: Participatory methods and land claims in Afro-descendant communities in Colombia, University of Sheffield, 29 June 2017, WRDTC 6th Annual Conference, Sheffield.
  • Presenter: Academic Scholar, Woman and Mestiza: Challenges, obstacles and advantages of doing research in the Afro-Geographies of the Colombian Caribbean, to be presented at The Annual International Conference of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), 29 August to 1 September 2017, London.
  • Presenter in Conference: Woman, International Migration and Development in Argentina and Canadá’, in VII Seminario Internacional de Estudios Comparados Argentina Canadá: Espejo de Agua, Espejo de Vida y III Encuentro de Jóvenes y Nuevos Canadianistas. Centro de Estudios Argentino Canadienses de Buenos Aires y Asociación Argentina de Estudios Canadienses Filial La Plata in colaboration with University of Ottawa and Cátedra de Canadá of University of Québec in Montreal. Octubre, 26-27 2006. Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Presenter: The Human Rights in Argentina: Past and present, in Instituto de Derechos Humanos “Bartolomé de las Casas”-Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. January 31 2008. Getafe. Madrid, Spain.
  • Presenter: Guidelines for interviewing victims of human rights violations, in Jornadas sobre derechos humanos en el Sahara Occidental. Asociación Asturiana de Amigos del Pueblo Saharaui. May 30-31 2008. Oviedo, Spain.
  • Presenter: Human Rights Protection: The case of the Saharawi People, in Instituto de Derechos Humanos “Bartolomé de las Casas”- Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de España. June 17 2008. Getafe, Spain.
  • Presenter: Right to truth, access to information and collective memory in the European System of Human Rights, in Instituto de Derechos Humanos “Bartolomé de las Casas”-Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. June 18 2008. Getafe, Spain.
  • Presenter: Psychosocial reparation for victims of gross human right violations: The case of the refugee Sahrawi women, in VII Jornadas de Salud Mental Comunitaria: Salud Mental y Derechos Humanos”. Universidad Nacional de Lanús. May 8-9 2009. Lanús, Argentina.
  • Presenter: Convention on the Rights of the Child: Children as protagonists, in III Encuentro de Becarios de la UNLP, Centro Cultural Pasaje Dardo Rocha. October 5-9 2009. La Plata, Argentina.
  • Presenter: Post-conflict justice in Argentina and gender issues, University of Bradford, March 7 2012. Bradford, England.
  • Presenter in SLAS 2016 - Society for Latin American Studies Annual Conference: Mapping the Absence: Participatory GIS in the Afro-Geographies of the Colombian Caribe (University of Liverpool, 7-8 April 2016)
  • Research Image in Doctoral Academy Conference Image Competition 2016: Mapping the Absence: Community-based Cartography in the Colombian Afro-Caribbean (University of Sheffield, 21 June 2016)

Key Scholarships and Awards

  • 2017: The Postgraduate Researcher Experience Programme bursary for an Impact Research Project: £1,000.
  • 2017 Grant: Society for Latin American studies (SLAS) Postgraduate SLAS Conference bursaries: £200. Royal Geographical Society -Postgraduate Forum: Conference bursaries: £50.
  • 2016 Grant: Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS) Postgraduate SLAS Conference bursaries: £200.
  • 2015 Grant: Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS): Postgraduate travel grant (fieldwork): £600.
  • 2013 University Prize Scholarship (2014) for studying a PhD (University of Sheffield) £22,500 (annual maintenance stipend and research support grant) and full tuition fees.
  • 2011 Rotary Peace Fellowship for studying a MA in Conflict Resolution (University of Bradford) £15,992 (annual maintenance stipend and research support grant) and full tuition fees.
  • 2007 - 2008 Fundación Carolina Fellowship for studying a MA in Human Rights (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)
  • 2010 Grant: Summer School-Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain.
  • 2008 Grant: Summer School-Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain.
  • 2007 Fellowship given by the Buenos Aires Province Congress to young promising lawyers
  • 2007 Honours. Graduate award of Law school: Joaquín V. Gonzalez
  • 1997 First prize in literature, category: short stories, Buenos Aires Province.


Society for Latin American Studies and Royal Geographical Society.
Education and Experience

Academic Background:

2012 MA, Conflict Resolution, University of Bradford, England (Distinction)

2008 MA, Human Rights, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain (Distinction)

2007-2010 MA in Human Rights, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina (ongoing)

2006 Lawyer (Hons)

Professional activities:

  • Logistic Coordinator of the Latin American Perspectives on the Post-2015 Development Agenda Consultation Exercise (Quito, Ecuador, April 2015) - The Sheffield Institute for International Development (SIID), UNDP Ecuador, Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) and the British Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)."
  • Consultant and Facilitator – Collective Women in Law (Colectivo Mujeres al Derecho), Colombia Nov 2013- Dec 2013 Consultant and Facilitator in the Encuentro Regional Caribe Voces de las Mujeres por la Paz (Regional meeting: Women and Equity: Voices for Peace in Barranquilla) in the context of the Colombian Peace Talks. Initiative supported by UNDP and UN Women. Wrote proposal to be submitted to the peace negotiators in order that women’s demands are included in the future Colombian peace agreement.
  • Officer/ Research Team Leader - Office of the Prosecutor, Argentina, Apr 2013- Nov 2014 Working in Special Unit for investigating and prosecuting the crimes against humanity perpetrated during the last Argentinian dictatorship. Conducted criminal investigations of human rights violations and investigated sexual violence against political prisoners under illegal detention and the complicity of enterprises in the forced disappearances of their workers.
  • Intern - ICTY (United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia) Office of the Prosecutor, The Netherlands, Jun 2012- Sept 2012 Analysed violence against men and boys perpetrated during the armed conflict in the Balkans. Performed analyses of documentary and witness evidence for the purposes of legal submissions.
  • Researcher, Cambodia, May 2012 Legal field work in sexual violence committed under the Khmer Rouge in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
  • Officer - Office of the Prosecutor, Argentina, Nov 2009- July 2011 Working in Special Unit for investigating and prosecuting the crimes against humanity perpetrated during the last Argentinean dictatorship. Performed military analysis for the purposes of prosecutions.
  • Senior Researcher, Argentina, 2009-2011 Bioethics and Human Rights (Universidad Nacional de La Plata)
  • Lawyer - Human Rights Office of Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, Mar 2009-Nov 2009 Legal advice for individuals held in custody in detention facilities in the Buenos Aires Province.
  • Board member- Amnesty International Argentina, 2008-2009
  • Lawyer - Pro Derechos Humanos de España, Spain/Algeria, Mar 2008- Jul 2008 Litigation before the National Court of Madrid regarding genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Guatemala and the Western Sahara under the principle of universal jurisdiction; Fieldwork in the refugee camp in Tindurf (Algeria) in order to collect the testimonies of the victims of human rights violations; Analysis of witness evidence for the purposes of legal submissions.
  • Campaigner for liaison with authorities, diplomatic representatives and international organizations, 2006-2007 Influenced national authorities and diplomatic representatives to adopt treaties, rules and resolutions on human rights and to implement policies to protect human rights, for instance, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and legislation for the implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Participation in the writing of the report, "Argentina: Recommendations on the Project Adaptation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court" (AI Index: AMR 13/003/2006) Preparation of the document "Argentina: Elections 2007. Call from Amnesty International for the creation of a National Plan on Human Rights "(AI Index: AMR 13/004/2007)
  • Human Rights Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala in partnership with the Guatemalan United Nations Verification Mission (MINUGUA), 2003-2004 Legal assistance in human rights investigations. Legal aid for victims of human rights violations, especially women who were victims of sexual violence during the internal armed conflict. Legal aid for the members of the National Association of Widows of Guatemala (CONAVIGUA) during the processes of exhumation of the remains of their relatives from mass graves in Comalapa. Assistance to women and girls who were victims of violence. Designed a network and guide of resources to provide assistance to women during violent episodes. Workshops in sexual health education in indigenous communities.


  • Sept - Dec 2017: Graduate Teaching Assistant in Qualitative Methods (GEO257) and Geographical Research Project (GEO356) at the Department of Geography- University of Sheffield.
  • Sept - Dec 2016: Graduate Teaching Assistant in Ideas and Practice of International Development (GEO6801) at the Department of Geography- University of Sheffield.


Selected Publications & Reports:

Short video production. (2017) The Role of the Archives in the Times of Peacebuilding (Land rights and Afro-descendant communities in San Basilio del Palenque, Colombia) with the support of the Postgraduate Researcher Experience Programme bursary:

Zavala Guillén, A.L. & González-Salzberg, (2017) ‘Legislación y Derechos Humanos en tiempos K: un estudio sobre las 589 leyes sancionadas por el congreso nacional durante la presidencia de Néstor Kirchner’ [Legislation and Human Rights: A study on the 589 laws enacted by the National Congress during the Presidency of Néstor Kirchner] (Article) in Revista Argentina de Teoría Jurídica- Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Volume 17.

Zavala Guillén, A.L. (2015) Placing Truth at the heart of the road to ‘never again’ (Blog) The Sheffield Institute of International Development.

Zavala Guillén, A.L., Schapiro, H. & Castelli, P. (in press) “Notes on the prosecution of economic crimes perpetrated during the last military dictatorship in Argentina” (Chapter) in Current Issues in Research of Gross Violations of Human Rights, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of the Nation.

Zavala Guillén, A.L. (2014), “The right to identity for donor offspring in the light of the judgement "C., E. M. y otros c/EN-M Salud s/Amparo" and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in InfoJus: Argentine legal information system, Id Infojus: DACF140357 Available here.

Zavala Guillén, A.L. (2013), ‘Argentinian Transitional Justice Process: Women Behind’ (Article), in Journal of Peace, Conflict and Development: Thinking about Peace Research in 21st century Latin America PDF Available here.

Zavala Guillén, A.L. & Rios, L. (2011) “What the genocide left us, legal and psychosocial consequences in the recovery of stolen childhood in Argentina” (Article) in EMUI Euro-Mediterranean University Institute and Universidad Complutense de Madrid, ISSN 1578-6730 PDF Available here.

Zavala Guillén, A.L. (2009) “My body will not be used against my aggressors: The case of "Vazquez Ferrá" and the limits in the search for justice and truth” (Article), in Universitas. Journal of Philosophy, Law and Politics, No. 9, pp. 21 -44, ISSN 1698-7950: PDF Available here.

Zavala Guillén, A.L. & Garcia Amaro A., (2007) “Women and International Migration: Modern auto-exile and the quest for true equality” (Article), in III Meeting of young and new Canadianists, Centro de Estudios Argentino-Canadienses, pp. 13-19, Buenos Aires, edition in CD-ROM, ISBN: 978-987-21910-2-3.

Zavala Guillén, A.L. & Diaz, S.P. (2005) “Legal protection of migrants in Argentina and Canada” (Chapter) in Cultural Diversity: Different Perspectives of the Present -Thematic Collection- Centro de Estudios Argentino Canadienses, pp. 225-233, Buenos Aires