This October session of the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) featured the review of Colombia. The Committee endorsed WILPF’s advocacy on the participation of women in the Colombian peace process and asked for a fast implementation of recommendations on the inclusion of women in the peace process and on the protection of women’s rights defenders. 

Colombia’s civil conflict

The internal Colombian conflict between Government forces and guerillas has been ongoing since it started in the mid-60’s. Peace talks were launched in November 2012 to end the country’s civil conflict. Even though United Nations Security Council Resolutions  (UNSCR) on women, peace and security require the participation of women in conflict resolution, Colombia has not yet included women in the first line of the negotiations. At the session, WILPF demanded that Colombia rectify the situation. The CEDAW responded by taking a strong stance for the participation of women in conflict resolution.

From Colombia to Geneva
Members of Limpal Colombia. Rosmery (pink shirt), a lideresa in San Jacinto, came to Geneva to attend the CEDAW session.

Members of Limpal Colombia. Rosmery (pink shirt), a lideresa in San Jacinto, came to Geneva to attend the CEDAW session.

Rosmery Moreno Reyes, a local lideresa (leader) of WILPF in San Jacinto (Colombia), joined the Human Rights team in Geneva to bring the recommendations from WILPF Colombia directly to the Committee. WILPF’s section in Colombia, WILPF/LIMPAL Colombia, contributed to a joint shadow report that addresses several issues linked to women’s rights in Colombia. We also presented our recommendations in an advocacy paper delivered to CEDAW members. We advocated for the inclusion of strong recommendations that require women participate in the prevention and the resolution of conflicts.

In our paper, we focused on the fulfillment of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. We called for the elaboration and the implementation of a National Action Plan on the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and for the inclusion of women on the first line of peace negotiations. We stressed the necessity to adopt measures aimed at providing adequate support to women after the conflict, especially displaced victims of the armed conflict and victims of sexual violence. We also emphasized the lack of effective protection provided for human rights defenders of the right to land.

The Committee holds Colombia accountable

During the interactive dialogue, members of the Committee directly addressed the issue of the lack of participation of women in the peace process. The Colombian delegation remained evasive in its answer, claiming that women have not been included in the first line of negotiations because the President of Colombia heads the meetings and is in charge of appointing negotiators. It was added that the issue is on the agenda.

In its concluding observations on Colombia, the CEDAW addressed women’s participation in political and public life and fully endorsed our recommendations.

In order to eradicate the exclusivity of the peace process, the Committee recommends that Colombia ensure both the full implementation of UNSCR 1325 through a National Action Plan and the effective and meaningful participation of women in the first line of negotiations.

The Committee also made a recommendation calling for the establishment of a protection programme for women human rights defenders and local leaders.

Recommendations on the inclusion of women in the peace process recognized as essential

Not only were WILPF’s recommendations endorsed by the Committee, but they were also included in the follow-up process: Colombia is requested to provide written information, within two years, on the steps undertaken to implement the recommendations on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and the protection of women human rights defenders.

Whilst this is great news for many women in Colombia, we regret that the powerful message provided by LGBT representatives during the review did not make a greater impact in the Committee’s Concluding Observations.

What to do now?

You can read the concluding observations of the Committee on Colombia.

WILPF’s Human Rights programme in Geneva and WILPF Colombia will monitor the implementation of the recommendations in Colombia and provide updated information to CEDAW Committee. However, the concluding observations alone will be an essential advocacy tool to defend and protect women’s human rights in Colombia and in particular to implement the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. Therefore, it is essential to always refer back to these recommendations when other human rights bodies review Colombia.

We will keep you updated on further outcomes of this process; so stay in touch and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or even better, subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest news directly in your inbox.