The UN reviews human rights in Colombia

News - 2023-10-02
In the ongoing UN review of the situation for human rights in Colombia, ForumCiv and other Swedish civil society organizations operating in the country have put forward recommendations that Sweden should advocate for in the UPR process. These recommendations concern threats and violence against human rights and environmental defenders, widespread impunity, and the inadequate implementation of the peace agreement.
The Colombian parliament with Colombias flag on the roof. Screenshot of the report on Colombia.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique mechanism within the UN Human Rights Council to regularly review the human rights situation in all member countries. The latest UPR review in Colombia was conducted in 2018, and the UN will now examine how the country has complied with the human rights recommendations made at that time.

Threats and violence against human rights defenders

The situation for human rights and environmental defenders has drastically deteriorated during the review period. Colombia is now one of the world's most dangerous countries for human rights defenders. In 2022, according to the organization Front Line Defenders, 186 people were killed in the country for defending their rights. Indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians, and women are particularly affected. Many of the attacks occur against people working in rural or conflict-affected areas.

Women are particularly vulnerable

Women in Colombia continue to face a highly vulnerable situation characterized by discrimination and lack of protection. A major problem is the widespread impunity. Many perpetrators of gender-based and sexual violence against women and girls are never being prosecuted.

Inadequate implementation of the peace agreement

Many of the recommendations from the previous UPR review concerned the implementation of the 2016 peace agreement. By the end of the mandate period in 2022 for the previous Colombian government, only 30 percent of the peace agreement had been implemented. However, under the leadership of President Gustavo Petro, the current government has promised full a implementation.

ForumCiv, together with several civil society organizations, urges Sweden to direct the following recommendations to Colombia in the UPR process:

  • The Colombian state must reverse the negative trend of threats and violence against human rights defenders, social leaders, environmental and peace activists, and guarantee their safety.
  • Colombia must take measures to combat impunity and ensure that those responsible for violence, threats, and attacks are brought to justice, including those who commit gender-based and sexual violence against women and girls.
  • The implementation of the peace agreement must be completed, particularly in the areas of rural reform, substitution of illegal crops, gender equality, and the rights of indigenous groups.

The new government under Gustavo Petro has shown political will and made commitments to achieve comprehensive peace. New processes for dialogue with armed groups have started, and social reforms have been initiated. The UPR process is an opportunity for the international community to support reforms and insist that Colombia continues on the path towards sustainable peace and respect for human rights.

The following organizations support the recommendations, coordinated by The Swedish Platform for Colombia: Act Church of Sweden, Ankarstiftelsen, Diakonia, The Swedish Foundation for Human Rights, ForumCiv, SweFOR, Operation 1325, Plan International Sweden, War Child, We Effect.

Civil society publishes shadow report

The Brussels-based network OIDHACO, of which ForumCiv is a member, has published a shadow report ahead of the UN Universal Periodic Review of Colombia. 

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