Solutions to Violent Conflict

Monitoring the Progress of Human Rights in the Colombia Peace Process

In Peace Accords on October 11, 2017 at 10:54 am

Borja Paladini Adell and Carolina Naranjo

With much more development than in other peace accords, the Colombian Final Agreement includes a series of transversal and differential aspirations, principles and criteria of an equitable character that reflect a human rights-based approach to the process of building peace. The inclusion of these transversal themes is one of the most distinctive and innovative features of the Colombian agreement. Evaluating the implementation of these themes is fundamental to understanding the fulfillment of the political commitments in the agreement and assessing the overall quality of the peace process.

The transversal themes of the accord direct parties to develop affirmative and equitable actions towards a set of populations and territories that have been marginalized and more affected by the armed conflict. Based on the logic of participatory elaboration and implementation of public policies, this approach considers people not as mere objects and beneficiaries of policies (or of a peace agreement as an expression of public policy), but as active subjects of rights. They have agency and the ability to demand certain benefits and behaviors from the State and their fellow citizens within the framework of the guarantee and enforceability of their rights and duties. This approach recognizes, accepts and promotes the role of rights holders as key actors in the design, implementation, and evaluation of these policies, so that the means used are consistent with the intended purposes.

The transversal themes developed in the accord are:

  • Gender-based approach
  • Territorial approach
  • Ethnicity-based approach

In addition, the Final Agreement includes a series of axes of analysis that are important to measuring the quality of the implementation process. These elements are included across all the themes, sub-themes, and stipulations of the agreement and should guide the analysis of the implementation process. The following axes of analysis have been identified:

  • Centrality of the victims of the armed conflict as subjective agents in the peacebuilding process
  • Participation and inclusion of affected communities in peace implementation
  • Equitable, situational and culturally sensitive measures for specific populations including children, infants, people with disabilities, and LGBTI.

These intersecting and cross-cutting axes of analysis are discussed in the Final Agreement in part because they have a highly developed legal and constitutional heritage in Colombia, as well as in international standards of human rights. In recent years, peace has been universally qualified as a superior human right and a necessary requirement for the exercise of all other rights and duties. This normative integration of rights with peace has been articulated in many United Nations declarations over the decades and was underscored recently in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs], which consider peace, rights and development as fully joined.

The peace accord seeks to address structural and cultural injustices for the effective fulfillment of human rights through a participatory and inclusive approach. It sets forth policies that strengthen the rule of law and facilitate democratic dialogue between civil society and state institutions. The goal is to generate safe and legitimate spaces of advocacy and transformation and introduce elements of equity and social justice in the relations of power in post-conflict society.

In this sense, the human rights perspective is fully compatible and congruent with a peacebuilding approach. Although sometimes seen as separate, peacebuilding and human rights perspectives share the common ground of seeking to affirm and restore human dignity in settings of protracted violence and dehumanization. This linkage of human rights and peacebuilding is especially appropriate in the context of the Colombia agreement, which aspires to transform the underlying conditions of injustice that give rise to armed violence as a principal guarantee of non-repetition of armed conflict.

Comparative analysis of other peace processes indicates that improvements in human rights performance are associated with more sustainable peacebuilding outcomes. This necessitates building a bridge between human rights and peacebuilding.

We do this in the Barometer Initiative by combining quantitative and qualitative monitoring approaches. The standard Peace Accords Matrix quantitative methodology is the basis for the reports of the Barometer Initiative. This methodology is now being utilized and adapted to assess whether specific measurable actions occur in the areas of gender equity, ethnic rights, territorial focus and human rights. This is supplemented with a social dialogic process of qualitative analysis, employing hermeneutic and reflective methodologies for the intersubjective construction of knowledge.

This socially based analysis will include:

  • dialogue with social and governmental sources with the greatest knowledge of specific themes using diverse viewpoints and perspectives from multiple spaces and locations in Colombia;
  • structured, focused interviews with selected researchers to triangulate assessments and gain additional insights;
  • periodic consultations among technical experts and observers to invite conversation and commentary on the quality of peace implementation.

These assessments will be combined with quantitative measurements to produce a more complete picture of the peace implementation process.

Borja Paladini is the Kroc Representative in Colombia and Barometer Initiative Mobile Team Coordinator.

Carolina Naranjo is the Barometer Initiative Mobile Team Senior Specialist.

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