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APPG on Women, Peace and Security: Roundtable Discussion with Colombian WHRDs

On Wednesday 17th April, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women, Peace and Security (APPG-WPS) and All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Rights Group (APPG-HRG) co-sponsored a roundtable discussion with ABColombia.

The roundtable welcomed two women human rights defenders from Colombia to speak on their experiences: Lilibeth Cortés Mora and Mildrey Corrales Charry. Lilibeth Cortés Mora is a criminal lawyer who works on women’s rights and the incorporation of a gendered approach, especially for victims of the armed conflict in Colombia. Lilibeth is the Deputy Director of Transitional Justice at Corporación Sisma Mujer, a Colombian feminist organisation supporting survivors of violence and discrimination. Mildrey Corrales Charry is a human right defender in Colombia, raising awareness of human rights violations and seeking dialogue with various sectors of civil society. Mildrey is a member of Coordinación Colombia Europa Estados Unidos (CCEEU), a network of 290 social organisations and human rights defenders. Louise Winstanley from ABColombia and Christina Challis from PBI UK also participated in the roundtable discussion, sharing their insights and making recommendations.

The discussion, facilitated by Baroness Hodgson, co-chair of the APPG -WPS, considered the following elements on Women, Peace and Security in Colombia: Transitional Justice; National Action Plan 1325; Total Peace; Police reform; and protection of Civic Space. This roundtable discussion highlighted the successful advocacy efforts of CSOs and grassroot organisations in Colombia for the establishment of the country’s own National Action Plan, which has been informed by consultations across the country at the local, regional and national levels.

The current landscape for Colombian WHRDs was outlined by the roundtable participants; Colombia was labelled as the most dangerous country in 2022 for WHRDs and violence against WHRD’s by organised criminal groups has increased since the conclusion of the 2016 Accord. Additional individual and collective protective measures are required to mitigate these threats, the speakers defined. While the Peace Accord concluded between the Colombian Government and the FARC rebel group in 2016 was a monumental achievement, its full implementation, including of its gender measures, and the continued involvement of women in consolidating ‘Total Peace’ are vital. Lilibeth provided an enriching overview of the changes in positive attitudes towards women human rights defenders in Colombia, which can be witnessed by the presence of WHRDs in the current government. Nevertheless, there is a long way to go, Lilibeth observed, and this can be assisted through the strengthening of civil society. Two important developments were highlighted by the roundtable speakers Macrocase 11, brought under the auspices of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), on behalf of victims of sexual and gender-based violence in the conflict to hold their alleged perpetrators to account. Secondly, the drafting of Colombia’s National Action Plan on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (NAP 1325), following extensive consultation with women across Colombia. The speakers asserted that support from the international community is crucial to drive these forward.

The UK stands as a penholder for the Mission of Verification in Colombian, therefore, holding an important role in facilitating peace processes in the country. The UK Government’s support for the implementation of the Accord and the prioritisation of Colombia in the UK’s NAP 1325 was duly noted by the roundtable participants. The UK Government was called on to take further action by:

  • providing targeted support to victims of sexual violence in conflict seeking justice in Colombia, taking into consideration that investigations and prosecutions must be concluded before the JEP’s mandate expires;
  • helping to enhance the protection of Colombian HRDs and social leaders, including women; and,
  • offering advice and funding to the Colombian Government for the launch and implementation of its NAP 1325.

The PHRG and WPS APPG will take follow-up action in support of Colombian WHRDs, the full implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord, and Colombia’s NAP 1325.

Baroness Hodgson thanked the speakers, the organisers and all who attended.

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