Institute for International
Cooperation and Development Studies

Two weeks in the Basque Country, Madrid and Cantabria to strengthen capabilities for the protection of organisations against human rights violations, murders and threats in Norte del Cauca

Date: 2021 December 10

From 20th November to 3rd December, twelve leaders of indigenous, Afro-Colombian and peasant organisations from the Northern Cauca region in Colombia visited us in Bilbao. During the course of two weeks we covered an agenda that was full of training activities on collective protection mechanisms, early warning-action systems and human rights defence, together with political advocacy activities and media work.

Seven women and five men from the Association of Indigenous Councils (ACIN), the Association of Community Councils (ACONC), the ANUC peasant association, the Nasa Project of Toribio and Tacueyó, coordinators of the indigenous and Cimarron guards, the Association of Councils of Caldono, ACIN and ACONC took part in these activities. The Corporación Ensayos del Norte del Cauca also participated in the accompaniment, which was fundamental in the coordination with Hegoa and in achieving the success of this training programme.

Training in security and protection

Human Rights and Protection expert Enrique Eguren imparted two sessions on "Early warning and action systems, protection and security mechanisms" and one entitled "Building protection, security and advocacy strategies". Carlos Martín Beristain, from the CEV Commissioner, dealt with "Strategies, experiences and protection mechanisms in Latin America; the situation in Colombia and the work of the Truth Clarification Commission".

The training programme was completed with the following sessions: "Violence against women and transitional justice", by the director of Hegoa, Irantzu Mendia; "International human rights networks and protection programmes", by Claudia Alejandra Sepúlveda (CEV - Hegoa), and the discussion "Territorial peace-building process", coordinated by Karlos Pérez de Armiño (Hegoa-UPV/EHU).

Political advocacy in order to advance in the peace process

The institutions, in accordance with their possibilities in terms of advocacy, can play a decisive role in advancing in peacebuilding process in Colombia. For this reason, throughout these weeks, the group presented the situation they were in, as well as their needs and proposals to the following institutions: the Cooperation Directorates of the Provincial Deputations of Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa, the Basque Cooperation Agency and the Cooperation Directorate of the Government of Cantabria. In Madrid, the group met with the Andean Countries Department of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID). It also held another meeting with the Human Rights Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.

Meetings were also held with the Human Rights Intergroup for Colombia in the Basque Parliament (Vitoria-Gasteiz) and with the Cooperation Commission of the Congress of Deputies (Madrid). In Donostia-San Sebastian and Bilbao we were also able to meet with other human rights and cooperation organisations working to promote the peace process in Colombia.

This programme was organised by the Hegoa Institute (UPV/EHU) in consortium with the Lanki Institute (Mondragon University) and the Ensayos Corporation and the Institute of Intercultural Studies of the Javeriana University of Cali (Colombia). The programme was supported by the Basque Agency for Development Cooperation (AVCD) within the project entitled Strengthening social agents for the construction of territorial peace and alternative economic models, in dialogue with the Basque experience (PRO19K2-003).