Final Peace Accords in Colombia include Ethnic Chapter

Bogota, August 25, 2016. The Final Peace Accord, which brings an end to the Colombian armed conflict, was signed in Havana yesterday, August 24, by presiding representatives of the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla group. The Accords include an “ethnic chapter” that provides a set of “principles, safeguards and guarantees” whose application during the implementation of the Peace Accords will contribute to guaranteeing the rights of Colombia’s ethnic communities and restore those rights that have been violated as a result of the conflict.

The inclusion of this important, last minute chapter was primarily due to the advocacy work of the Comisión Étnica para la Paz y la Defensa de los Derechos Territoriales, consisting of the Consejo Nacional de Paz Afrocolombiano – CONPA (National Afrocolombian Peace Council), the Organización Nacional Indigena de Colombia – ONIC (National Indigenous Organization of Colombia) and The Gobierno Mayor de las Autoridades Indigenas de Colombia (Major Government of the Traditional Indigenous Authorities of Colombia).

The inclusion of this ethnic chapter helps in some ways to correct the omission of a suitable differential ethnic approach in the draft agreements created during negotiations. This omission was due in large part to the negotiating table’s failure to implement appropriate mechanisms for dialogue with ethnic organizations that had sought participation in the negotiations since they began. The contents of the ethnic chapter undoubtedly offer a central reference point for the implementation an appropriate differential ethnic approach. But the application of a differential approach will depend on a set of mechanisms and conditions, the creation of which will require a commitment by the Colombian government, the FARC, and ethnic organizations and communities.

Within the contents of the ethnic chapter, it should be noted that the Accords:

  • Recognize the structural nature of exclusion and the differential impacts of the conflict experienced by ethnic groups.
  • Confirm the validity of all national and international norms by which the Colombian State has committed itself to protecting the rights of ethnic peoples.
  • Propose ­the Consulta Previa mechanism, the “prior, free and informed consultation,” of ethnic communities as the main safeguard for ethnic communities’ rights to be applied in the implementation of all the Accords. As such, the Accords acknowledge the legitimacy of ethnic authorities as key actors in all implementation mechanisms.
  • Stipulate a transversal approach that includes gender, family and generational dimensions as the guiding principle of applying a differential ethnic approach.
  • Propose the creation of special mechanisms for consultation and ensuring participation in all institutions created for the implementation of the each of the Accords (comprehensive rural reform, political participation, victims, solution to the problem of drugs, and implementation and verification).
  • Establishes a High-Level Special Body for Ethnic Peoples to serve as a mechanism for participation in all processes of implementation and verification of the agreements

These are some of the key elements of the ethnic chapter. Now, does the inclusion of this ethnic chapter guarantee that the agreements will effectively implement and apply an appropriate differential ethnic approach? This will depend on many political, institutional and social conditions that must be guaranteed in the post-agreement stage. Among them, the following should be highlighted:

  • The most important, which will be an indisputable, necessary condition (sine qua non), is that communities and organizations must have the necessary capacity and resources to effectively participate in the mechanisms proposed for the implementation of the Accords. The Colombian State must prioritize the establishment of this condition.
  • All legislation adopted by the Colombian Congress must include all the principles, safeguards and guarantees provided in the ethnic chapter, a constituent part of the Final Accord.
  • The budgets for the implementation of the Accords must include resources required specifically for the differential ethnic approach to be actually applied.
  • The regional and local entities who will ultimately will be responsible for the implementation of the Accords must incorporate into their programs and projects these principles, safeguards and guarantees.
  • Verification processes must incorporate specific mechanisms for monitoring the implementation of the provisions of the ethnic chapter.

The Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights commends the Colombian government and the FARC for having successfully completed the negotiation process, and for having included the ethnic chapter in the Final Accords. But above all else we congratulate and express our sincere appreciation and admiration for the work of the Comisión Étnica para la Paz y la Defensa de los Derechos Territoriales (Ethnic Commission for Peace and Defense of Land Rights), and all the organizations and communities they represent. It was their perseverance and unconditional commitment to peace in the country that has created the conditions for the implementation of the Accords to help lead to the restoration of their rights. The Institute will continue to support them in their continued efforts.

See pages 180 -183 of the Peace Accords in Spanish.

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