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July 22, 2007

WILPF delegation to Colombia

We had lunch. It was great. Then we had a presentation by the delegation to Colombia. The following is basically me re-typing the written report they gave. They had different areas of their report and separated it out by Issue, Findings and Recommendations.

Delegation members were: Amparo Guerrero (Colombia), Adriana Gonzalez (Colombia), Marta Benavides (El Salvador), Tagrid Shbia (Israel), Mary Day Kent (USA), Elin Christiansen (Norway), Liss Schanke (Norway).

The title of the presentation is:
Women Constructing Peace in the World: The Case of Colombia
Findings and recommendations of the WILPF delegations to Colombia July 15-19, 2007


  • A beautiful film trailer by Adriana Vera, featuring footage from the delegation set to Colombian music
  • Background on the delegation by Amparo Guerro, WILPF Colombia

What is Happening?

Armed Conflict

  • The government says it is not internal conflict, that international humanitarian law is not applicable
  • "democratic security" strategy of the Colombian government is neither democratic nor secure
  • WILPF Colombia will provide regular information to WILPF sections in English and Spanish without endangering the lives of the members.
  • WILPFers should create “Friends of Colombia” working group to distribute information

Not because of Drugs

  • The conflict is not about drugs. The drug issue is used to cover up other elements, and to justify measures. In addition, the drug industry funds the conflict!
  • The official position of the government is that the core of the conflict is the fight against drug growers and dealers; this is not correct.
  • WILPF must understand the relation between the conflict and drug trafficking, importing distribution, and consumption…and which role this plays regarint the Free Trade Agreement and Plan Colombia and the successive government "plans."
  • We must also see the relationship between the drug issue, the land issue and the displacements

Not because of communism or terrorism

  • The conflict is not about communism or terrorism. These issues are used to cover up the natural resources aspect and justify measurements to protect the interests of the actors
  • WILPF must understand this and discuss the challenge how to transform this.
  • Communism and terrorism are regularly given as reasons for social control and to justify repressions and oppression - and wars - all over the world.

Conflict over natural resources: land, minerals, and oil

  • The main reason behind the armed conflict and the displacements is natural resources. Land, as well as minterals, carbon (coal) and petrol and many multinational corporations are involved. The armed forces are driving the population away from the mining areas - through displacements; implying that the peasants and indigenous peoples who originally lived on the land are therefore victims
  • The armed forces are protecting the activities of the multinational companies.
  • WILPF sections in countries of the multinationals should confront their companies e.g. US, Canada, Netherlands, Israel and UK and make a campaign.
  • WILPF Norway should clarify whether Norwegian oil companies are involved in Colombia in any way.
  • WILPF International should discuss the issues of different forms of boycott - if possibly in cooperation with the unions. In the case of Denmark, the Danish government prohibited the Drummond Company from using Danish ports because of their role in the massacres.

More than three million displaced persons, mainfly farmers, indigenous people and afro-colombians

  • Colombia has one of the world’s highest numbers of internally displaced persons. More than 50% are women.
  • WILPF Colombia is working with displaced women, focusing on political and economic empowerment
  • The delegation will later give specific recommendations to WILPF Colombia regarding this work.

Extremely dangerous situation for the Unions

  • The situation for union leaders are extremely difficult and several thousand union leaders were killed in 2006.
  • Historically, unions have played a leadership role in defending the rights of the majority. The unions also represent links to the labor movement internationally, and can provide current and accurate information on the actions of multinational companies
  • WILPF sections should follow the information about the companies based in their various countries, and the role their governments play in the International Financial Institutions (WTO, World Bank, IMF, etc.)

Government initiatives

  • The office of the President's Advisor for Gender Equality has launched a range of activities, e.g. gender strategy, local women's councils and a campaign to increase the number of
  • "More women, more politics."

  • WILPF Sweden should discuss with the Swedish Embassy in Colombia whether it would be possible for Sweden to support the training - financially as well as technically. The office of the President's Adviser has already worked with the Swedish Institute for Statistics and has been very satisfied with the technical assistance.

Peace negotiations

  • Ongoing talks taking place between the government and the armed groups in Cuba.
  • These talks do not include women or other representatives for civil society.
  • There is hope that the talks will lead to more open attitude towards the civil society, introducing topics an representation on issues such as women, land, displaced people, and returnees
  • WILPF sections in countries that support the negotiations financially: Spain, Switzerland, Norway, France, must advocate for participation of women - in line with 1325 and/or parallel women's peace negotiations.

Colombia is a good 1325 case study

  • The conflict in Colombia can be used as a case study - for analysis of conflict as well as for analysis and planning of 1325 interventions.
  • WILPF International and WILPF sections should use Colombia as a 1325 case study for analysis and action.

There will be a 3 hour workshop on Colombia during the Congress, and the participants will have time to discuss all the relevant issues in depth - including the follow up.

Posted by cj at July 22, 2007 1:06 PM


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