WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
14 Jul 2015 | Commentary

WOLA: Defending Workers’ Rights in Colombia

In addition to supporting broader human rights in Colombia, WOLA works to ensure that union activists in the country do not face violence for their work. In recent years, this has meant monitoring the implementation of the Colombian Labor Action Plan (LAP).

Presidents Barack Obama and Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia launched the LAP in April 2011 in  conjunction with the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. It was meant to pave the way for a vote on the long-pending trade agreement by guaranteeing that workers’ rights would be upheld. As it was written, it provided a road map for Colombia to protect internationally recognized labor rights, prevent violence against labor leaders, and prosecute the perpetrators of such violence.

However, the LAP lacked the enforcement mechanisms needed to ensure that all of its commitments were fully implemented. After the FTA went into force, the Colombian government no longer felt pressure to promote the sustained and meaningful protection of labor and union rights that Colombian workers have lacked for so long.

More than four years after the LAP’s ratification, it remains only partially implemented and workers still face threats of violence and persecution. WOLA is working to change this reality.

For more on WOLA’s work around the LAP, see: