Tag: Compliance with Commitments

Congress Should be Alarmed by Colombia’s Crumbling Peace

(Cross-posted from wola.org)

By Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli and Mario Moreno

This past July, in a powerful show of force, 94 members of the United States House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo outlining grave concerns about the status of Colombia’s peace process.

The letter’s message, and the sheer number of signatories on it, sent shockwaves through Colombia. Shortly thereafter, in an interview in The Hill, Colombian President Iván Duque responded to congressional alarm by dismissing it as a product of U.S. electoral politics. His cavalier response underscored the point of the letter: Colombia’s peace is disintegrating because the Duque administration is failing to protect those working to sustain it.

The social leaders, Afro-Colombian and Indigenous activists, and human rights defenders doing the grassroots work of building peace in Colombia’s marginalized communities are being systematically targeted and assassinated. More than 400 social leaders have been killed since the signing of the peace accords, including 170 so far this year according to Colombian NGO Indepaz. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, whose data the Colombian government prefers, has identified a lower number of social leaders killed this year—but pending deaths that need verification, it notes a potential 70 percent increase in murders in the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019.

Among those killed this year is Marco Rivadeneira. He was assassinated while promoting voluntary coca substitutions programs—a key facet of the peace accords and a shared goal of the United States and Colombia—in a community meeting. His relentless efforts to implement these programs in Putumayo, a region where cocaine trafficking groups dominate, earned him credible death threats. He requested help from Colombia’s National Protection Unit, an agency that protects threatened social leaders. He never received it.

Four months after Marco Rivadeneira’s murder, no one has been brought to justice. What’s more, the Duque administration has engaged in policies that undermine Mr. Rivadeneira’s work. Rather than protect and support the 99,097 Colombian families who have signed up for voluntary coca substitution programs, the Duque administration is trying to restart an ineffective aerial eradication program that could decimate the health and sustenance of entire communities. Many of these communities are earnestly interested in voluntary eradication, but live without basic services.

Marco Rivadeneira’s story is a microcosm of peace in Colombia today.

Social leaders are pushing for voluntary coca substitution programs in regions controlled by cocaine traffickers. They’re seeking land, labor, and environmental rights in communities where extractive industries like mining operate. They’re finding justice for the millions of human rights abuses committed during Colombia’s 52-year conflict. Every day, their work directly challenges the power of violent interests in Colombia.

The Duque administration can support the work of social leaders by prioritizing the full implementation of the 2016 peace deal. It can better protect them by bringing those responsible for ordering attacks against social leaders to justice. Instead, the Duque administration is undermining them.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, threatened social leaders have reported that their government-provided protective details have withdrawn, leaving them exposed to credible danger. Last year, the Colombian Attorney General’s Office launched 753 active investigations into threats against social leaders; only three resulted in convictions.

The Duque administration has also made social leaders’ work more difficult. Institutions tasked with uncovering human rights abuses during the Colombian conflict and guiding the truth and reconciliation process face drastic budget cuts. A critical development vehicle designed in conjunction with impacted communities—called Development Plans with a Territorial Focus—is operating at a fraction of its cost.

The reality on the ground is clear: since signing its historic peace accords, Colombia’s grasp on peace has never felt so tenuous.

The 94 members of Congress who signed the letter to Secretary Pompeo expressed legitimate alarm about peace in Colombia. The U.S. House of Representatives was right to act on that concern by generously funding peace implementation in the 2021 Foreign Operations appropriation, and by including amendments in the National Defense Authorization Act to defund aerial fumigation operations in Colombia and investigate reports of illegal surveillance by Colombian military forces.

It is critical that the United States Congress take a further step. It must proactively work with the Colombian government to aggressively protect social leaders, Afro-Colombian and Indigenous activists, and human rights defenders. Without their grassroots work securing land reform, labor rights, environmental rights, and justice, peace in Colombia is not possible.

Tags: Attacks on social leaders, Compliance with Commitments, Illicit Crop Eradication, U.S. Congress, U.S. Policy

July 31, 2020

Webinar from July 21, 2020–Colombia’s 2016 Peace Accord: A Framework for Ethnic, Women’s, and LGBT+ Rights

We’re pleased to share video of last Tuesday’s two-panel discussion of the state of Colombia’s peace accord implementation. The first panel presents the principal findings of the fourth comprehensive report on the peace accord by Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. The second includes insights from experts on women’s rights, gender, and LGBT+ provisions.

This video does not include the translators’ track: speakers choose the language in which they prefer to speak. The first panel is in English, the second is in Spanish.

Tags: Afro-Descendant Communities, Compliance with Commitments, Gender Perspective, Indigenous Communities, LGBT+

July 27, 2020

Protect Colombia’s Peace

Published by the Latin America Working Group Education Fund, WOLA, and 22 other organizations on July 23, 2020.

Outlines the current challenges of Colombia’s peace process, across the board, and makes recommendations for U.S. policy.

Tags: Afro-Descendant Communities, Attacks on social leaders, Coca, Compliance with Commitments, Drug Policy, Gender Perspective, Illicit Crop Eradication, Indigenous Communities, LGBT+, Migration, PDET, Reintegration, Stabilization, Transitional Justice, U.S. Aid, U.S. Policy, Victims

July 23, 2020

Webinar Tuesday July 21: Colombia’s 2016 Peace Accord: A Framework for Ethnic, Women’s, and LGBT+ Rights

Cross-posted from wola.org. Join us tomorrow at 10:00AM Eastern. RSVP at WOLA’s website.

Join the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the International Institute on Race and Equality, the Latin America Working Group (LAWG), Colombia Human Rights Commission (CHRC), and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) for an online forum.

The inclusion of an Ethnic Chapter, as well as women’s, LGBT+, and gender rights issues in the 2016 peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was not only historic, but a model for future peace accords globally. Now, in its fourth year of implementation, while the Colombian government has made progress in some areas, challenges remain in terms of implementing certain commitments in a timely, comprehensive way.

On June 16, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame published its fourth comprehensive report on the peace accord. As part of its formal role as an independent arbiter of Colombia’s peace deal, the Kroc Institute uses data collection and analysis, based on a wide array of quantitative and qualitative variables, to assess where Colombia is advancing in implementing the peace accord commitments and where challenges still remain. The Ethnic Commission, composed of leaders from Afro-Colombian and Indigenous territories and civil rights groups, also released its most recent report on the implementation status of the Ethnic Chapter.

Join us to learn more about the findings of these reports and updates from experts on women’s rights, gender, and LGBT+ provisions. U.S.-based organizations including LAWG, WOLA, and others will share a collective set of recommendations for U.S. policy towards Colombia entitled, “Protect Colombia’s Peace.”

Event Details:

Tuesday, July 21, 2020
10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. GMT-4 (Washington, D.C.)
9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. GMT-5 (Bogotá, Colombia)

First Panel: “Towards Territorial Transformation”: The Kroc Institute’s Fourth Report on Implementation
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Panelists:

  • Josefina Echavarría
    Director, Peace Accords Matrix (PAM) at the Kroc Institute
  • Elise Ditta
    Research Associate, Peace Accords Matrix (PAM) at the Kroc Institute
  • Daniel Cano
    Political Relations Coordinator, Barometer Initiative at the Kroc Institute
  • Rebecca Gindele
    Specialist, Barometer Initiative at the Kroc Institute
  • Moderator: Adam Isacson, Director of Defense Oversight, WOLA

Panel 2: Peace Accord and Cross-cutting Approaches
11:00 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

Panelists:

  • Luis Fernando Arias
    Secretary-General, National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC)
  • Ariel PalaciosNational Afro-Colombian Peace Council (CONPA)
  • Wilson Casteñada
    Director, Caribe Afirmativo
  • Diana Gómez Correal
    Professor, Interdisciplinary Center for Development Studies (CIDER) at Universidad de los Andes
  • Larry Sacks
    Colombia Mission Director, United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Moderator: Carlos Quesada, Executive Director, International Institute on Race and Equality

Final remarks
12:10 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Panelists:

  • Lisa Haugaard
    Co-Director, Latin America Working Group (LAWG)
  • TBD
    EU/international representative
  • Josefina Echavarría
    Director, Peace Accords Matrix (PAM) at the Kroc Institute

The event will be chaired by Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, Director of the Andes at WOLA.

Simultaneous interpretation into English and Spanish will be available.

RSVP at WOLA’s website.

Tags: Afro-Descendant Communities, Compliance with Commitments, Indigenous Communities, LGBT+

July 20, 2020

June 16, 2020

The Kroc Institute of Notre Dame University, which the peace accord gives a formal role in verifying compliance with accord commitments, releases its latest report, covering December 2018 to November 2019. Of 578 different commitments laid out in the accord, Kroc finds that the parties have fulfilled 25 percent completely, 15 percent are on pace for completion, and 36 percent have undergone “minimal” compliance, while work has yet to begin on 24 percent of commitments.

“The report emphasizes that implementation in Colombia is at a crucial point, transitioning from a focus on short-term efforts to medium- and long-term priorities, as well as focusing more on the provisions with a territorial focus.”

Tags: Compliance with Commitments, Implementation, Verification

June 16, 2020

¿Cómo implementar el acuerdo de paz en medio del coronavirus?

Publicado por El Espectador Colombia 2020 el 19 de mayo de 2020.

A discussion of the challenges of implementing the peace accord during the COVID-19 emergency, with Emilio Archila, presidential advisor for Stabilization and Consolidation; Niels Annen, vice-minister of foreign relations of Germany; Francisco de Roux, president of the Truth Commission; Stefan Peters, director of the Instituto Colombo-Alemán para la Paz; and Laura Barrios of the Universidad del Rosario.

Tags: Compliance with Commitments, High Counselor for Stabilization, Public Health, Reintegration, Stabilization

May 19, 2020

May 18, 2020

Legislators from the ruling Centro Democrático party call a hearing on “the FARC’s non-compliance with the accord,” alleging that only 85 percent of FARC members reported in 2017 are continuing in the process,” and that the FARC has yet to turn over the vast majority of its declared assets. FARC legislators respond that the government was slow to secure assets like real estate, much of which may have fallen into the hands of dissident groups.

At that hearing, Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo—a politician who was a leading voice urging a “no” vote in the October 2016 plebiscite on the peace accord—suggests looking into “whether or not it would be appropriate to make some changes” in the accord’s implementation, without affecting its text.

Tags: Compliance with Commitments, Politics of Peace

May 18, 2020

La paz en emergencia, avances y retos en tiempos de pandemia

Publicado por El Espectador Colombia 2020 el 8 de mayo de 2020.

A discussion of peace accord implementation amid the COVID-19 crisis, with Senator Iván Cepeda; Marco Romero of CODHES; Elena Ambrossi, a former member of the government peace negotiation team; Rodrigo Uprimny of DeJusticia; Representative Juanita Goebertus; Saúl Franco of the Truth Commission; and Representative Feliciano Valencia.

Tags: Compliance with Commitments, Public Health, Stabilization, Transitional Justice, Victims

May 8, 2020

“The disease of coronavirus cannot lend itself to strengthen the disease of war.”

Here is an English translation of an April 27 letter to the chief of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia from Defendamos la Paz, a broad coalition of peace advocates.

Letter addressed to Carlos Ruiz Massieu Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General Verification Mission in Colombia

Bogotá, April 28, 2020

We are writing to you to share our concern and, through you, to alert the Secretary General and the members of the Security Council about attacks against the implementation of the Peace Agreement in Colombia in times of coronavirus.

As the Defendamos la Paz movement, we raise our voice of protest against the instrumentalization of the pandemic to undermine the Peace Agreement. The health crisis does not only hide the inaction of the Government. More importantly, it fuels the governming party’s campaign against peace implementation.

Defendamos la Paz is against designs aimed at making reforms to the Peace Agreement, which the Government and the ruling party failed to obtain through legislation, become reality through the back door, while citizens remain focused on the pandemic.

We call the attention of the Verification Mission, the General Secretariat and the Security Council to the events listed below.

1- THE INCREASE IN MURDERS OF EXCOMBATANTS AND SOCIAL LEADERS

We are approaching the number of 200 ex-combatants killed. The Verification Mission has registered 197 homicides since the signing of the Peace Agreement. To this number must be added 39 assassination attempts and 13 disappearances of former Farc-EP members.

As for human rights defenders, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights verified 108 homicides in 2019 and registered 56 more denounced cases for 2000 as of March 24.

The Government remains silent in the face of this attack on peace, there are no initiatives to stop the bleeding and the pandemic has served to camouflage its passivity. The security forces do not react, the Attorney General’s Office does not advance enough and the instruments provided by the Peace Agreement, such as the National Commission for Security Guarantees, are not convened by the Government.

You yourself pointed it out before the Security Council: “No efforts must be spared with regard to those facing specific risks, given their roles in the promotion of human rights and the implementation of the peace agreement, and those who laid down their weapons and remain committed to the peace process.”

Defendamos la Paz requests, once again, the immediate convocation of the National Commission for Security Guarantees, the Commission for Monitoring, Promotion and Verification of Implementation and the tripartite Attorney General-FARC-Verification Mission commission.

2- THE GOVERNMENT’S PLANS

In the latest management report of the Presidential Advisor for Stabilization and Consolidation, which covers the period August 7, 2018 – March 31, 2020, the Government revealed intentions to evade compliance with the Peace Agreement and national regulations and jurisprudence. We mention:

1- The expulsion of FARC members from Congress

The Government insisted on the withdrawal of senators and representatives from the FARC until they carry out the sentences dictated by the Special Peace Jurisdiction. This proposal was the subject of a defeated draft legislative act in Congress, a process later studied by the Constitutional Court. In the view of Defendamos la Paz, this point was settled both in the legislative and judicial branches and there can be no modifications.

2- Loss of transitional justice benefits

The Government has warned that it will seek the removal of transitional justice benefits for ex-FARC-EP combatants who have not turned over their declared assets by July 31. The ex-FARC-EP combatants reported that they handed over the inventory and, once disarmed, they lost the ability to guard some of the assets in conflict zones. Several of them have been occupied by third parties. Defendamos la Paz believes that this obligation of the Peace Agreement must be fulfilled as soon as possible in the framework of dialogue and good faith and warns about the danger of its politicized use to unleash de facto reforms not obtained in Congress.

3- Glyphosate spraying

The Government continues planning to spray with glyphosate. From the governing party and allied sectors, calls for the start of fumigations during quarantine have been reinforced. The Constitutional Court has conditioned spraying on the fulfillment of a list of requirements related to the Peace Agreement. Several of these cannot be met during a period of social distancing. Defendamos la Paz reiterates its rejection of glyphosate fumigation, especially in times of isolation when families depend on basic food crops.

3- PAROLE DURING THE PANDEMIC

Decree 546 of 2020, which authorizes house arrest during the pandemic, leaves out members of the security forces and the FARC-EP. Defendamos la Paz states that this exclusion not only lacks the slightest humanitarian sense, but also constitutes a violation of the Agreement, which establishes conditional liberty for those who accept the jurisdiction of the Special Justice for Peace.

4- DEMANDS TO DEFUND PEACE

The pandemic serves as an excuse to demand the reduction of funding for peace. The governming party proposed that part of the funds for the implementation of the Havana accords be reprioritized toward Covid 19 health needs, for basic food, and to save small and medium-sized companies. Defendamos la Paz believes that the health of Colombians in the midst of war cannot be guaranteed and, therefore, the commitment to peace is part of the health response. Rather, we call for speeding up the implementation of health projects in the Territorially Focused Development Plans (PDET).

Mr. Ruiz Massieu, you, the Secretary-General, and the Security Council must know that the country has not escaped the authoritarian discourses that go against the separation of powers. For example, a governming party spokesperson called for the closing of Congress during the pandemic. The natural head of this political force, former President Álvaro Uribe Vélez, called for its reduction, on the verge of a ruling by the State Council that could make the 16 seats for peace [temporary congressional seats for victims’ organizations] contemplated in the Peace Agreement a reality. The Government has not rejected these proposals.

The Secretary General was right when he called for a global ceasefire. At Defendamos la Paz, we believe, like him, that the more we’re in a pandemic, the more we need peace.

Mr. Ruiz Massieu, there is no doubt; in Colombia, a pandemic is being used to dodge peace commitments; the disease of coronavirus cannot lend itself to strengthen the disease of war. We ask you, Secretary-General Guterres and the members of the Security Council to help us avoid this.

Cordial greeting.

See full letter

Tags: Civil Society Peace Movement, Compliance with Commitments, Public Health

May 4, 2020