In June, the government of Colombia and the FARC parties issued a ground-breaking declaration of principles on victims. They announced that they were inviting a delegation of victims to participate in the talks and that other opportunities will be created for victims to be heard within the peace process. They requested that the United Nations and the National University convene a series of three regional and one national forum for victims to present their proposals. Two forums have already taken place and the others are scheduled for late July and early August.
During a June 2014 visit to Colombia, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden met with victims of the conflict and emphasized the need for greater human rights protections as the peace process progresses. What role can the U.S. play, both politically and financially, in facilitating an end to the conflict? What recommendations do victims’ groups have for the U.S. as it prepares to support a post-war Colombia?
The event discussed victims’ rights and proposals from four victims of different groups, including guerrillas, paramilitaries, and the State. A half a century of internal armed conflict has resulted in more than 6.5 million victims officially registered with the Colombian government’s Victims’ Unit. This event provided the opportunity to hear diverse perspectives of leaders who are survivors of violence to discuss their proposals for a just and lasting peace.