This 12 day human rights and peacebuilding delegation will be held in the capital city of Bogotá, and the country's second-largest city, Medellin. Delegates will have unique opportunities to meet with relevant government officials, community leaders, and other experts from around the country who present diverse perspectives on Colombia’s history of violence and progress towards protecting human rights. This program is designed for undergraduate and graduate level students who are committed to mutually beneficial international exchange, driven to learn about human rights and transitional justice, and interested in understanding the complexities of advcacy and governing in the post-conflict Colombian context.
In 2016 the president of Colombia was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating a peace deal to end more than 50 years of conflict with the FARC, the longest-running war in the Americas. Colombia has been caught up in a complex internal conflict involving a range of actors, from communist guerillas to right-wing paramilitaries, that has left more than five million internally displaced persons (the second highest rate of forced displacement in the world), 220,000 homicides, 60,000 disappearances, almost 2,000 massacres, and more than 27,000 kidnappings. To counter this violence, Colombia has often been at the forefront of many international human rights initiatives—it was one of the first countries to vote in favor of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and included extensive human rights language in a new constitution in 1991. Over the years, government and non-governmental groups have orchestrated a range of collective memory initiatives to trace the history of violence and promote the right to truth. This delegation will learn about both formal and informal historical memory projects to understand the Colombian conflict’s origins, persistence, and impact on the country. Delegates will get an insider’s view on challenging questions concerning how different accounts of past violence are being produced to protect human rights, pursue accountability, and promote peace in Colombia. This is an opportunity to see history in the making and visit a country implementing a groundbreaking peace deal.
By the end of the program, delegates will be able to:
1) Explain the internal conflict in Colombia and its impact on the country. Delegates will be exposed to diverse perspectives on the origins of the violence and experience of victims, which will give them a deep understanding of Colombia's civil war. Delegates will critically consider the social and political process involved in constructing a narrative of the violence.
2) Compare governmental and non-governmental initiatives to defend and protect human rights in a post-conflict context. Delegates will critically consider the human rights challenges that Colombia faces following the implementation of the peace process.
3) Discuss the peace process with the FARC and proposed transitional justice measures and offer insight on how it compares with prior domestic and international peace processes. The delegation will provide in-depth information about the Comprehensive System for Truth, Justice, Reparations and Non-Repetition established to address victims' rights.
4) Assemble information about groups working to protect human rights and promote peace in Colombia. Delegates will be encouraged to support peace building initiatives beyond the delegation.
Dechen Albero, Executive Director, Global Youth Connect