Guaranteeing the Participation of the Ethnic Commission is Necessary for Building Real Peace

ACSN expresses its solidarity with Ethnic Commission, which is constituted by the National Afro-Colombian Peace Council (CONPA), the National Organization of Indigenous Communities (ONIC), and the High Government of Indigenous Authorities. The ethnoterritorial authorities, social movements and organizations that are part of the Ethnic Commission have struggled to participate in the negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC in spite of their exclusion from the negotiations since they started on September 4, 2012 until March of this year. Their participation in the construction of peace in Colombia is necessary, especially in light of the fact that ethnic peoples have been disproportionately affected by the internal armed conflict and – according to the United Nations – they are also at risk of being adversely affected once the peace accords are implemented. Therefore, it is necessary that the representatives of indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples are included in a meaningful and consistent way in this process. It is the only way to guarantee a stable and sustainable peace for all Colombians.

We participated as international observers in the bilateral meeting between the Ethnic Commission and the FARC in Havana between July 6 and July 10, 2016. This bilateral meeting was authorized by the national government and corresponds with agreements made between the government and the Ethnic Commission during the Agrarian Minga. As a result of the hearing on June 26 and 27, 2016, we recognize that some steps are being taken to ensure the inclusion of the ethnic perspective in the peace accords. However, we affirm that their participation should be guaranteed through the following mechanisms:

  1. The formation of a Tripartite Ethnic Commission that consists of the Colombian government, the FARC, and the Ethnic Commission. This Commission would assume the technical aspects of including the demands of ethnic peoples.
  2. The inclusion of an Ethnic Chapter in the final accords. This chapter should contain principles for application, safeguards, monitoring mechanisms, and guarantees for ensuring that the new legislative and institutional frameworks will not affect the constitutional and internationally recognized rights of ethnic peoples.
  3. The resolution of urgent humanitarian issues related to the conflict that include – but are not limited – to the militarization of ethnic communities through quartering and anti-personal landmines, the persistence of extractive industries (both “legal” and “illegal”) in ethnic territories, femicides, and threats against social leaders and communities.

We hope that the bilateral meeting on Thursday, July 14, between the Ethnic Commission and the peace delegation from the Government of Colombia will advance this agenda.

The ACSN calls on all human rights and other social justice organizations in the United States and Colombia to express their support for the full participation of the Ethnic Commission in the peace process negotiations in Havana, Cuba. The Colombian Government and FARC must guarantee an end to the displacement, dispossession of ancestral territories, and environmentally destructive extraction of natural resources that has characterized the last few decades. Guaranteeing Afro-Colombian communities’ full participation in this peace process is necessary for building a lasting peace.

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