The UN committee tasked with monitoring the International Convention Against All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) expressed its concern over the lack of participation of Afro-Colombians and indigenous peoples in the peace negotiations and recommended to the Colombian government that they be included. On the 4th and 5th of August, in Geneva, the Committee made these recommendations in its final observations and recommendations to the Colombian government in the Committee’s review of 15th and 16th periodic reports, whose conclusions and recommendations were recently published.

Members of civil society, including Charo Mina Rojas from the Proceso de las Comunidades Negras [Process of Black Communities] (PCN), came in representation of Afro-Colombian and international organizations to be present at the proceedings and, alongside members of indigenous Colombian organizations, presented a report underscoring Colombian civil society’s concern over structural discrimination against Afro-Colombians.

The Committee emphasized that “the armed conflict continues to disproportionately affect indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians owing to, amongst other factors, the militarization of their land, the high incidence of sexual abuse suffered by indigenous and Afro-Colombian women, the use of children in by armed non-state actors…” Moreover, the Committee manifested its concern that “the peace negotiations lack effective participation by indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians.

Amongst its recommendations, the Committee requested that the Colombian government “guarantee that indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians, including women, are consulted during the peace negotiations so that process of truth, justice and reparations will effectively take into account their legitimate interests.”

“This just reaffirms what we Afro-Colombians have been seeking for over a year, since the creation of Afro-Colombian National Committee for Peace (CONPA),” said Marino Córdoba, President of the Asociación Nacional de Afrocolombianos Desplazados [National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians] (AFRODES). Córdoba also added, “The CERD recommendation gives our request international legitimacy. Now we hope that the Colombian government complies with the recommendation, includes us in the peace negotiations, and creates a working group that will take into account proposals by ethnic groups.”

Before presenting their conclusions, the Colombian civil society delegation along with Carlos Quesada, Executive Director of the Institute for Race, Equality and Human Rights, met with the UN Special Rapporteur for Colombia, the Independent Expert Carlos Vázquez, to update the Rapporteur on their main concerns and present their recommendations directly to him.

Charo Mina Rojas concluded that “We are very satisfied with how the Committee has received our primary points of concern during our meeting and for the fact that they included many of our recommendations in their final observations.