WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

Colombian Human Rights Defenders Navigate Post-Accord Challenges

10:00 a.m - 12:00 p.m. Wednesday, 14 February 2018
2301 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037

AP Photo/Fernando Vergara

2017 Human Rights Prize Winners Discuss the Challenges to Implementing Peace


Carla Koppell, Welcome
Vice President, Center for Applied Conflict Transformation, U.S. Institute of Peace

Steve Hege, Moderator
Senior Program Officer, U.S. Institute of Peace

Enrique Chimonja, Winner
Defender of the Year, Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz

Angélica Ortiz, Winner
Social Collective Process of the Year, Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuú

Iván Madero Vergel, Winner
Collective Process of the Year, NGO Level, Corporación Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos

Socorro Acero Bautista, Winner
Recognition of “Lifetime” Defender, Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos en Colombia

Gimena Sánchez, Director for the Andes, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
Juror, National Prize for the Defense of Human Rights

Lisa Haugaard, Executive Director, Latin American Working Group (LAWG)
Juror, National Prize for the Defense of Human Rights

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Wednesday, February 14
United States Institute of Peace (USIP)
2301 Constitution Ave NW,
Washington, DC 20037

Event will be in Spanish with simultaneous translation available
A livestream of the event will be available at USIP’s website


The government’s peace accord with the former FARC rebels presents a historic opportunity to work towards the construction of a democratic Colombia that addresses the wrongs of the past and charts a new course toward equality, justice, and prosperity. At the heart of this process are human rights defenders and civil society organizations, who play a vital role in addressing the underlying economic and social root causes of violence and holding stakeholders accountable to the commitments of the accords.

Despite progress in the accords’ implementation, ensuring human right defenders have the ability to play this critical role remains uncertain. The peace process is being jeopardized by the expansion of organized criminal groups and the remaining ELN armed rebels into territories previously controlled by the FARC. The recent wave of attacks against social leaders and human rights defenders remains a critical challenge to security. Join the U.S. Institute of Peace, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), and the Latin America Working Group Education Fund (LAWGEF) to hear from leading Colombian human rights defenders. They will discuss the challenges they face in their communities and the role they play in engaging regional institutions, local authorities, and diverse social sectors to secure lasting peace in Colombia.

This year’s speakers are the winners of the 2017 Colombia National Prize for the Defense of Human Rights granted by the international community and organized by the Swedish humanitarian agency Diakonia. USIP, LAWGEF and WOLA served as jurors for the 2017 prize and will co-sponsor the event.