Colombia National Peace Congress Declaration “We Insist: Peace is the Way”

Colombia National Peace Congress Declaration “We Insist: Peace is the Way”

National Peace Congress: Uniting voices, territories for peace

As organizations convening the “National Peace Congress: Uniting Voices, Territories for Peace”, where social, ethnic-territorial, anti-militarist, youth, environmentalists, women and human rights organizations, churches, land claimants, victims and academics participated; residents from more than 50 territories of the country, who met between March 12 and 14, 2024 at the headquarters of the Santo Tomás University, shared hopes, struggles, concerns and proposals regarding peacebuilding in Colombia.

At the event, we confirmed that the reconfiguration of the armed conflict in several territories (regions) of Colombia has been deepening the humanitarian crises, especially in Bajo Putumayo, north of Nariño, Pacific Coast, Bajo Cauca Antioqueño, Mojana Sucreña, south of Bolívar, north of Caquetá, Montes de María, Catatumbo, among others. This situation is the result of factors such as: poverty, the strengthening and advancement of illegal armed and paramilitary groups and national and transnational mafias, the increase of illegal economies, and the weak presence of the national state, a context contrary to the well-being and survival of the communities.

In this context, we call on the Colombian State, the different armed groups and the various sectors of civil society to:

  1. Persist in peacebuilding and non-violence as a vision of the future for Colombian society. The wave of violence must end. The life of the communities and their territories, in harmony with nature, must be the center of economic, political, social, cultural and environmental decisions of the country.
  2. Make irreversible and unwaverable the progress made within the Total Peace process along with social and environmental justice. In order for peacebuilding to be concrete, commitment and political intentions are necessary among the National Government and the various actors that are in negotiation and in the peace tables process. The negotiated solution to the armed conflict is an obligation. In the dialogue process between the Government and the ELN the agreed accords must be fulfilled.
  3. Put forth immediately effective measures to mitigate the worsening of humanitarian crises. Displacements, confinements, threats, murders, recruitment and forced use of boys, girls and young people in the conflict must stop and be transcended. Progress must be made in cessations of hostilities, in humanitarian relief and truces between armed groups for the protection of communities.
  4. Ensure binding, transformative, territorial, decentralized participation with guarantees for communities and organizations. Citizens must be an active agent in peacebuilding. Their demands and proposals must be incorporated into the various levels and scenarios of formulation, design, implementation, monitoring and control of public policies and agreements of the negotiations. Life cannot be at risk for participants in the different peace processes taking place in the regions.
  5. Promote a culture of peace coming from the recognition of ethnic, territorial, spiritual, gender and generational diversities. The social, political, economic and environmental transformation must go hand in hand with a peacebuilding culture that is based on respect and that structurally eliminates racism, classism, sexism and other types of violence that affect communities, ethnic groups, children, youth and women in the country. We highlight the role of churches and communities of faith as agents of reconciliation and we urge that in the places of participation there are spiritual corridors of different religious beliefs to accompany the communities’ expressions of resistance and reconciliation.
  6. Guarantee the presence of national state institutions at all territorial levels and greater public investment in agreement with the communities for the defense of the public and common goods. For peacebuilding social justice is necessary. Therefore, it is urgent that the national state invest in the regions to reduce inequality and poverty that perpetuates violence in all its forms. For this, it is fundamental the implementation of strategies that articulate institutions and territories so that the national state guarantees life, well-being and the effective enjoyment of rights.
  7. Is a political and ethical priority of the national state and society to support and strengthen social and community processes and initiatives that face the climate crisis; promote energy transitions, agro-productive activities, environmental justice, reconciliation and non-violence. For decades, ethnic groups, social and community organizations have sustained life, they have taken care of nature and those who inhabit the various territories; their initiatives have become both a protective social fabric for leadership and a vital tool for social and political transformation. Supporting and strengthening them is investing for a future in peace and the care of the common home.
  8. Prioritize the design and carry out of Territorial Development Plans with differential approaches of rights, gender and environmental justice for peacebuilding. Being the local public policy with the highest territorial impact due to budget designation and its closeness between institutional actors and communities, the Territorial Development Plans become an effective tool for advancing peacebuilding with social and environmental justice.
  9. Formulate and enforce the national policy of reconciliation, peace and coexistence. The National Peace Council (Consejo Nacional de Paz) formulated the guidelines for the development of this policy. It is an alternative which promotes transitional and restorative justice, intercultural and interreligious dialogue, to strengthen the ties of peaceful coexistence between all Colombian people and move forward in a culture of peace.
  10.  Comprehensive implementation of the 2016 Peace Accords and the recommendations of the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition. It is the responsibility of the Colombian State to fully comply with what is contained in the Final Accords, this means: normative and institutional development, enforcement of measures contained in the six points of the 2016 Peace Accords, budget designation and fulfillment.

We will insist on peace with social, environmental and cultural justice as the only possible way to the present and future of the entire Colombian society. We continue to mobilize hope!

Bogota, March 14 2024

Redprodepaz; JustaPaz; Universidad Santo Tomás; Plataforma Colombiana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo; Viva la Ciudadanía