FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Co-Sponsoring Organizations: MADRE, Washington Office On Latin America, Black Alliance for Peace, Just Associates, Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic - CUNY School of Law, NORDIK Institute, Common Frontiers
October 3, 2017 - As government officials push to finalize the framework plan for implementing the peace accord between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), human rights advocates in Colombia and their international allies signed an open letter, calling for compliance with the accord’s gender and racial justice provisions. The letter was a response to a call for support from Afro-Colombian and Indigenous organizations, whose communities have witnessed an increase in human rights violations, including forced displacement, since the accord took effect late last year. International signatories include organizations from throughout North and Central America, Europe, West Africa, and the Caribbean, as well as longstanding human and civil rights activists.
Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Peoples, who endured among the worst consequences of Colombia’s armed conflict, including the highest rates of conflict-related gender-based violence, mobilized during peace negotiations to ensure the peace accords included provisions protecting and furthering their rights. Among those provisions, contained in the accord’s Ethnic Chapter, are requirements that Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Peoples be meaningfully included in formulating peace implementation strategies and security measures in their territories.
Afro-Descendant and Indigenous authorities and organizations, however, have found themselves excluded from peace implementation decision-making. In part because of their exclusion from security planning, paramilitaries and other armed actors are filling the vacuum left by demobilized FARC fighters in areas that heavily overlap with their territories. Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Peoples are witnessing new mass forced displacement, murders of human rights defenders, gender based violence, and other abuses.
The official plan for implementing the accords, known in Colombia as Plan Marco, will focus on rural development, with significant implications for Indigenous and Afro-Descendant Peoples’ territories. Racial justice advocates in Colombia, including the Ethnic Commission for Peace and Defense of Territorial Rights, warn that by failing to adequately consult with Afro-Colombian and Indigenous authorities, the government is eroding their right to give or withhold free, prior and informed consent to policies and development plans that impact them or their territories.
“Protecting Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Peoples' territorial and other collective rights is fundamental to ensuring lasting peace in Colombia,” said Charo Mina-Rojas of the Afro-Colombian rights organization, Proceso de Comunidades Negras. She added, “Our survival as Peoples depends on protection of these rights and our meaningful participation in peace implementation.”
“Peace agreements are strongest if they further the rights of those who face systemic, long-standing discrimination, particularly based on gender, race and ethnicity,” said Yifat Susskind, Executive Director of MADRE. “The Ethnic Chapter of Colombia’s peace accord is a milestone in the history of peacebuilding internationally, but will only be meaningful if actually implemented, and in close collaboration with Afro-Colombian and Indigenous women.”