WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

Implementing Peace for Colombia’s Afro and Indigenous Groups

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, 14 November 2017
1666 Connecticut Ave N.W. Suite 400, Washington D.C.

AP Photo/Fernando Vergara

Implementing Peace for Colombia’s Afro and Indigenous Groups


Patricia Tobón,
National Indigenous Association of Colombia (ONIC)

 Tuesday, November 14, 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
1666 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 400
Washington D.C., 20009

 Presentation will be in Spanish with English translation available

Just over a year ago, a coalition of indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders, known as the Ethnic Commission, travelled to Havana to successfully advocate for the inclusion of special terms in Colombia’s peace accords. The result was the historic inclusion of the Ethnic Chapter in Colombia’s peace agreement, which recognizes the disproportionate impact of the internal armed conflict on Afro-Colombian and indigenous peoples and the need to include them in the construction of peace.

However, implementation of the November 2016 accord has proven to be even more challenging than the peace negotiations. Progress on many aspects of the peace deal has been frustratingly slow. Additionally, the roll-out of other reforms meant to uphold the accord terms have excluded the participation of ethnic organizations. Since last year, the creation and enforcement of new laws, including the justice body that will try war crimes, has included limited consultation with indigenous communities and largely left out the input of Afro-Colombian groups.

On Tuesday, November 14 please join us for a discussion with Patricia Tobón Yagarí, an Emberá indigenous attorney who currently works with the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia, ONIC). During the discussion, Ms.Tobón will analyze advancements in implementing the peace process in relation to ethnic communities, as well as challenges for the peace deal as congressional and presidential campaigns kick off ahead of the May 2018 elections.

Tobón is among those named to Colombia’s Truth Commission, the body that will investigate the victimization of civilians during the country’s 52-year civil conflict. Additionally, she  is an expert in constitutional rights and is dedicated to ending the practice of female genital mutilation in Emberá communities via education and advocacy. She has also done significant work tracking how the extraction of natural resources has impacted Colombia’s indigenous communities. Among other efforts, she has testified before ONIC about ongoing human rights abuses occurring in Colombia’s indigenous communities, and also testified before the Inter American Commission on Human Rights in 2013 on how natural resource extraction and violence have threatened to annihilate indigenous groups and led to a sharp increase in suicides among indigenous women. Tobón is the co-author of a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report looking case studies of adolescent suicides in indigenous communities.