Statement by WILPF on OHCHR Report on Colombia: Equal Participation of Women in the Peace Process

March 23, 2016

WILPF welcomes the report from the OHCHR on the situation of human rights in Colombia and would like to call to the attention of the Council the importance of an inclusive Peace Process that includes the voices of women for a sustainable peace. Whilst we recognise that steps have been taken so far in relation to the inclusion of women and a gender perspective within the framework of the negotiations in Havana for the end of the armed conflict, we emphatically reiterate that the participation of women in every one of the established scenarios must be equal.

As we greatly welcomed the steps towards the participation of women at all levels in the negotiation process in Havana, the presence of special gender advisers on both sides of the table, the creation of the gender sub-committee and the agreement of developing an Integrated Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Recurrence System, composed of an independent and non-judicial Commission on the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition[1] between the Colombian government and FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army), we are strongly concerned about the lack of equal numbers of women in several sub-committees created in Havana as well as the low presence of women at the top level of the decision making in the negotiation. This symbolises, for us the women of Colombia, the lack of visibility of our ethical and political contribution, proposals and commitments in the name of peace.

Despite the comprehensive legislation developed in Colombia for the advancement of women, women and girls still face great discrimination and all forms of violence. The OHCHR reported 90% impunity on non-armed conflict sexual violence, while 100% of cases of sexual violence in the context of armed conflict showed “no procedural advances.”[2] There have been constant calls of the UN and its mechanisms, such us CEDAW,[3] UPR[4] and the Secretary General, as well as women’s organisations in Colombia and worldwide for the development of a National Action Plan for the implementation of the UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions. We insist, once again, that a National Action Plan is an essential mechanism for incorporating the women, peace and security agenda into the policy design and implementation of strategies in the post-conflict scenario for long and sustainable peace.

As stated in OHCHR’s report: “the sustainability of peace will depend on Colombia overcoming the enormous divide in human rights enjoyment between rural and urban areas, between men and women, and between different population and ethnic groups.”[5] Gender equality and social justice are ends in themselves but also factors for sustainable peace.

In the current preparations for the UN Political Mission of unarmed international observers[6] that will monitor and verify the laying down of arms, the definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, it is important that the UN ensures that the ceasefire and the cessation of hostilities do not only refer to the laying down of arms by all parties to armed conflict, but also encompass the cessation of violence against women and girls, particularly sexual violence.

Therefore, WILPF recommends the following:

  • Creation of a high-level, robust institution to represent women’s rights and guarantee women’s inclusion and participation in all the stages of implementation, verification and counter-signature of the peace agreement.
  • Higher investment in peace education for boys and girls equally and explore avenues for the reduction in military expenditure in the postconflict scenario.
  • Support the Attorney General’s Office in reducing the high impunity levels of sexual violence both out and in the context of armed conflict.
  • Inclusion of women’s organisations, including Afro-Colombian and indigenous women’s organisations, in the design and implementation of the early warning strategies, the preparation for the UN Political Mission’s deployment; and in its operations including ceasefire monitoring.
  • Gender parity in the UN Political Mission’s delegates tasked with its preparation and execution, with expertise in the promotion and protection of women’s rights, prevention of violence against women, particularly sexual violence, gender mainstreaming, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR), and small arms control.
  • Work with the Gender Sub-committee and gender experts in the Havana negotiation table;
  • Dedicate special attention to the reintegration of women and girl ex-combatants, guaranteeing technical and psychosocial assistance that addresses their specific needs.
  • Guarantee a “zero tolerance” capacity-building and awareness-raising that focuses on the prevention and sanctions of violence against women and girls, particularly violence. In addition, there must be concrete measures to translate the commitments into actions that will guarantee the security of victims of sexual violence.
  • The development of a National Action Plan for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and its related resolutions.

[1] Borrador Acuerdo sobre las Víctimas del Conflicto:
“Sistema Integral de Verdad, Justicia, Reparación y No Repetición”, incluyendo la Jurisdicción
Especial para la Paz; y Compromiso sobre Derechos Humanos

[2] A/HRC/31/3/Add.2 Annual Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Addendum: Situation of human rights in Colombia

[3] CEDAW/C/COL/CO/7-8, Concluding observations on the combined seventh and eighth periodic reports of Colombia, Parag 23(a):

[4] A/HRC/24/6, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review Colombia, Parag 117.2:

[5] A/HRC/31/3/Add.2 Annual Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Addendum: Situation of human rights in Colombia:

[6] S/RES/2261 (2016), Adopted by the Security Council at its 7609th meeting, on 25 January 2016:

Human Rights Participation to Peace Talks Colombia Human Rights Council Statement

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