On May 10, Colombia underwent a review of its human rights record during the Third Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva, Switzerland. The UPR is the main mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council to review the human rights records of each of the 193 UN member states and issue recommendations to improve the state’s public policies. After each revision, carried out every 5 years, a final report is issued that lists the recommendations which the state should implement before the next review period.
During the session, Colombia’s Minister of the Interior, Guillermo Rivera, stated that “today, Colombia is a different country” and that achieving lasting peace from the armed conflict is the best way to guarantee the promotion and protection of human rights for all Colombians. Additionally, during the session, the Minister spoke about the signing of the peace agreement between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the national government in 2016 and the efforts to reach a similar agreement with the National Liberation Army (ELN).
The Minister also presented figures that indicated a reduction in rates of violence in 2017 to its lowest points in the last 42 years. Despite this figure, representatives of the countries present at the review continued to express concern for the high levels of violence, human rights violations, and murders of social leaders after the signing of the peace agreement.
Erlendy Cuero, the Vice-President of the National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES), was present at the review thanks to the support of the Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality). She gave an overview of the situation of human rights in Colombia and urged the Colombian government to adopt the recommendations made by the States present at the review.
While the final report with the recommendations for the Colombian government is still being drafted, the following are some comments and suggestions mentioned by representatives of the States present during the review of the Colombian state:
Race and Equality hopes these recommendations will be significantly taken into account by the State when taking measures to protect the lives of social leaders and recognize the rights of Afro and indigenous communities, men, women, children, and the LGBTI population. The Colombian government must not wait to take action to reduce violence and human rights violations. The stable and lasting peace proposed in the peace agreement has not yet been achieved in the country.