Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie

The Colombian Social Conflict and Peace Process

1 October 2016

The peace talks in Havana between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People's Army (FARC) is a positive sign that the country’s main armed actors  are serious about ending the countries 50 year war.  However, the end of the armed conflict does not necessarily mean an end to violence, displacement, inequality, impunity, and militarization which are at the root of the problem in Colombia. To achieve a lasting peace with social justice, Colombia must deepen its democratic institutions and undertake profound social and political reform. Reforms that seek to bring about social and economic transformation and the elimination of social inequity.  The end of the armed conflict is the beginning and an important step in the path to addressing the issues impacting Colombians.    
In order for Colombia to achieve lasting peace, the state must be genuinely committed to strengthen participation of civil society in the peace talks and in future actions that impact the factors creating social inequality.   To that end we propose to undertake a campaign to inform Canadian policy makers and the Canadian public of the factors that are at the root cause of the armed conflict in Colombia and draw links between those factors and Canada’s trade and investment policies.  To give visibility to Colombian civil society voices and spaces calling for greater participation in the peace process and that represent those most impacted by the conflict yet are excluded from the peace talks.
This can be done by supporting the building of mechanisms through which the structural issues that cause war can be negotiated with all the social actors impacted, such a as a social roundtable for peace  or other mechanisms of participation that seek to propose solutions that tackle the social, political, and armed conflict.
Main focus:   
Distinguish between civil societies call for peace with social justice and peace talks in Havana. Analyse the peace process dialogue, the strengths and weakness of the accords and its limitations and impacts on the structural problems faced by Colombians
Target audience is general public and Labour councils
 
Look at structural problems that cause the conflict and draw out links between factors and Canada’s trade and investment policies that contribute to the issues i.e. FTA’s, extractives, etc.
Target audience is policy makers and sectors more informed about the process (academics, Human rights advocates etc.)
Using popular education techniques and material  to target general public and Labour councils
 
Push to have Colombian government recognize and engage with Colombian civil society wishing to participation in the peace process as critical spaces exercising democratic participation.
Target audience is the Canadian government. The focus is to put pressure on the Canadian government to pressure the Colombian gov.
Educational Component:
Change the narrative of the discussion in Canada with regards to the peace process by creating deeper awareness of the deteriorating social conditions in Colombia (HR, labour violations, displacement etc.) and the need for profound social changes in order for there to be a lasting peace with social justice
Use existing documentation (reports) to highlight growing problems in Colombia. This could include public events, webinars, creating more material etc.
Work closely with the CLC and develop a tool kit on Colombia that can be used to support their labour council educational campaign
Support other partners  campaigns  round the peace process or Colombia in general
Utilize key dates/moments to highlight the situation in Colombia and how Canadian investment contributes to the current social and political problems
Responding to the Human Rights Impact Assessment undertaken by the Canadian government in May.
Link issues impacting Colombians with issues that are relevant to Canadians. This could include partnering with other groups or developing targeted material in areas like Justice for First Nations People, refugees and displacement, corporate accountability etc.
Create links with discussion going on around the TPP in Canada and how trade deals weaken state’s ability to regulate in the best interest of its citizens. For example TFA  promotes mega development and in  Colombia this often leads to conflict, displacement and militarization  
Undertake workshops on the peace process at the WSF in Montreal in Aug 2016 that could include Colombians speaking about the peace process results.

Government lobbing:
Meet with selective members of Parliament to educate them on how best to support the peace process and the issues causing the conflict i.e. FTA, extractives.  
Send the CWG report and other reports to selective MP’s to highlight the deteriorating social conditions in Colombia
Plan for a day on the hill with coalition members like the APG

Ask the Liberal government and the NDP to make a public statements asking the Colombian government to include civil society in the peace process and to stop the criminalization of civil society  


Actions:
Utilize the expertise and support activities of different members of the Colombia Working Group.  This can be done by asking members to lead activities in different months on various topics i.e.  Human Rights Assessment, Corporate Social Responsibility in the extractive sector, human rights defenders and criminalization. Look  into possibility of linking with Black history Month in Canada with a focus on Afro-Colombians
Investigate where members of Canadian civil society can provide specific expertise to Colombian civil society. This will be required as the organizations around the Social Roundtable will look at the structural changes required in all aspects of Colombian society including things like labour, healthcare, education etc.  (ex: showcase the advantage of free healthcare)
Solidarity actions in Canada with Colombians civil society calling for participation in peace process
Undertake actions in Canada in solidarity with mass strikes planned in Colombia during the summer 2016
In the fall of 2016 roll out 1-2 day conference on the results of the peace process and what can be Canada’s role. This can be done in conjunction with a Canadian tour of Colombians like Ivan Cepeda, members of Congress de los pueblos, Marcha Patriótica, USO etc.
Create a petition around what Colombian civil society organizations demand and which we can build support for in Canada.
Type of demands for Petition:
Colombian Civil society wants to be more included in the process, in order to ensure that it is not just about ending the armed confrontation but addressing the social justice issues at its core.
Ending criminalization of Colombian civil society and demanding that the Colombian government guarantee the safety of activists and create a climate of tolerance and democracy.
 Civil society is calling for a ceasefire to be agreed between the parties to the conflict. Whilst the talks are ongoing in Havana, war continues all over Colombia. The lack of a ceasefire not only poses a risk to the talks, abut also means that the humanitarian tragedy continues
Dismantlement of paramilitary structure, land restitution of stolen lands and ensuring transitional justice does not include letting crimes go unpunished
 

Author: 
Colombia Working Group

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