A web presentation from the Washington Office on Latin America

WOLA logo 15th Anniversary of Plan Colombia: Learning from its Successes and Failures

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One in Six Colombians

Colombia’s National Unit for Integral Attention to Victims, an agency founded by the 2011 Victims and Land Restitution law, has registered nearly one out of every six citizens as victims of the armed conflict. Most are internally displaced people who were forced to abandon their homes, as Colombia still has the world’s second-largest displaced population. Many are close relatives of some of the 220,000 people killed by the violence.

A frequent criticism leveled at the peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas is that it is a discussion between two sides that have many thousands of victims, while the victims themselves have no seat at the table. Both sides have endeavored to state that the peace process “will not exchange impunities,” that victims’ rights are “at the center” of the agreement, and that they have actively sought input from victims’ groups.

Still, with such a large population of registered victims, expectations are very high for truth, recognition of guilt, some measure of justice, reparations, and restoration of dignity in general. Meeting—and in the meantime managing—these expectations will be one of the principal challenges of the post-conflict period. If millions of victims come to view peace accord implementation as a failed process, the risk of renewed future violence will rise.

Chart of victims by year of victimization, followed by a graphic illusrating Colombia's status as the number-two population of internally displaced people

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