The Colombian peace agreement is an international model for the inclusion of marginalised populations and for women's participation. It is the first peace agreement in the world to integrate effectively a gender approach and one of the most progressive in terms of the rights of women and the LGBTIQ community. The women's and LGBTIQ movements played a significant role in the inclusion of these aspects during the peace negotiations.
At the beginning of the official talks in Havana in 2012, only 5% of the negotiators were women. Thanks to the mobilisation and lobbying of women's organisations, a gender sub-commission was established in 2014. Among other things, it was tasked with reviewing all documents published as part of the peace process for gender-sensitive wording and ensuring that they contained gender-specific provisions. In 2015, 20% of the members of the government negotiating team and 43% of the FARC-EP delegates were women.
Gender aspects weakened
The women's and LGBTIQ movements were able to exert influence at various stages of the peace process. Thanks to them, the peace agreement integrates a gender approach and includes an entire chapter on gender. The agreement also integrates ethnic and gender perspectives. For example, it explicitly refers to a woman's right to land ownership, contains special provisions for women's political participation and states that there will be no amnesty for crimes of sexualised violence.
This gender-sensitive approach was highly controversial in the run-up to the referendum on the peace agreement, which took place in October 2016. With 50.2%, the voters voted against it. As a result, the Colombian government and the FARC signed a revised peace agreement, which was ratified by Congress in November 2016, thus ending the conflict. Consequently, the gender perspective and in particular the rights of LGBTIQ persons were weakened in the final agreement.
Violence against activists continues
Nevertheless, the agreement serves as a model. But it faces major challenges in its implementation. Violence has increased in the areas formerly controlled by the FARC-EP. The causes: an increase in drug trafficking, the formation of criminal groups, legal and illegal mining and the continued presence of armed and paramilitary groups. The Colombian state is responding with an increased military presence in the contested areas. This new militarisation is leading to on-going armed confrontations, massacres, new displacements, the restriction of civilians' space for movement and an increase in targeted killings and gender-based violence. Activists, civil society actors and human rights defenders in particular are operating at great risk.