Christian Aid Colombia works with local partners who are among the most important organisations in the social movement – they have a permanent presence in key regions and strong links with local communities.
Following the signing of a peace agreement in 2016 between the Colombian Government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), we are increasingly moving our focus from tackling violence to building peace.
We have been tackling violence through our work on resilience, protection and the fight against impunity for years while attempting to build peace in the midst of the armed conflict. Our partners are well positioned to continue to engage closely with the peace process.
We will continue to speak out with our partners to support civil society peace-building initiatives, to establish dialogue with authorities and to change the structures that perpetuate violence, inequality and human suffering.
Our Christian Aid Colombia programme aims to:
- Build communities' resilience by helping them claim their rights, particularly their right to land and territory.
- Help to hold the state to account, make it more responsive to civil society and actively protect of human rights defenders, including local leaders.
Father Alberto Franco, a leading member of our partner organisation the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP). His work empowering communities affected by conflict has made him the target of death threats.
In Colombia we work on...
Protection of partners, communities and human rights defenders
We build the capacity of partners, communities and human rights defenders to protect themselves while also raising their profile to prevent and reduce the threat of violence and attacks.
We work to build peace through transitional justice, with a focus on victims' rights to truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of no repetitions.
This includes addressing gender-based violence; challenging existing gender norms; supporting women to gain access and control over resources; and helping women participate directly in political processes at all levels, including local and national peace building.
Inequality is one of the root causes of the internal armed conflict, which needs to be addressed through fiscal justice - this is about more than tax or budget systems, it is about power, politics and helping people to fight inequality. We want to ensure public money is directed to the poorest and most vulnerable groups, and there is a progressive tax system where the rich pay more and the poor less.
The war brought us together and forced us to organise. We came together to make a list of demands but the main thing is unity. Without unity you are weak. Together we are strong. We came together to organise and protect our rights.
Our partners involvement during the peace talks was critical and their presence helped to facilitate the participation of conflict-affected communities and victims, giving them a voice in the negotiations.
For example, before the publication of the final text of the peace accords, our partner Compaz, was called to work on the ethnic perspectives in the agreements to ensure the interests of indigenous and black communities are protected, especially around access to and control over land and ensuring autonomous governance structures were safeguarded and reaffirmed in the peace agreement.
Likewise, our partners also contributed significantly to the strong gender justice provisions in the peace agreement.
Partners are now deeply engaged with the implementation of the Peace Agreements, in particular around ensuring the rights of victims to truth, justice, reparation and guarantee of none-repetition.
Bringing perpetrators of crimes to justice
Our partners have brought several high level cases to the courts. As a result of their work, 16 businessmen have been sentenced to jail for using paramilitary groups to illegally grab the land belonging to the communities. These communities were displaced in 1997 with the excuse of the need to fight the insurgents.
Access to land is key to peace building and jointly our partners have helped rural communities obtain access to more than 500,000 hectares of land.
Wateuma Casamasiningui belongs to the Embera indigenous group in Colombia. Along with another 1,200 Embera people she led a march to protect their sacred hill. They faced the army and were determined not to allow mining in their territory. With support from our partner the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace, the Embera marched peacefully and forced the mining companies out of their land.
Our programmes and donors
Christian Aid Colombia is working on projects funded by institutional donors including the EU and Irish Aid and other key donors such as the Church of Sweden as well as trusts and foundations including the Latin American Children's Trust. It also receives funding through our supporters in the UK and Ireland.
Irish Aid has traditionally been, and continues to be, a major donor for Christian Aid’s Colombia programme. Irish Aid supports our work on gender justice, the protection of human rights defenders, tax justice and helps communities to gain or maintain control of their land, or claim it back, in the face of threats from the agro and extractive industries and ongoing armed conflict.
Related news and blogs
Closer to peace: Colombia's second largest guerilla group start public phase of peace negotiations
February 2017: The Colombian government and the second largest guerrilla group in Colombia, the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN) initiated the public phase of the Peace Talks, in Quito, Ecuador.