FOR Peace Presence provides physical safety, political visibility and solidarity by accompanying communities and organizations that embrace active nonviolence to defend life, land and dignity.
FORPP envisions a nonviolent world in which: political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, are fully enjoyed, including the option of freely participating in social movements without being subject to violence or threats; processes of reconciliation are informed by collective memory and acknowledge traditions of resistance; all communities, and those historically marginalized, have the right to self-determination and fully participate in decisions regarding their lands, identities, and cultures.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation Peace Presence (FORPP) is a non governmental organization dedicated to providing international accompaniment to communities and individuals at risk in Colombia who are working to promote human rights, peace and justice.
Addressing the Post-Agreement Context for Human Rights Defenders in Colombia
Aggressions, death threats and assassinations of human rights defenders have significantly increased since peace talks between the government and the FARC guerrilla began in 2012; additionally opening Colombia to global economic interests poses a direct threat to peaceful alternatives forged by Colombian communities. Excluded from the peace negotiations, human rights defenders are those most adversely affected by the Colombian conflict.
Most of the aggressions (66%) are attributed to neoparamilitary groups. The structural causes of these aggressions are not addressed by the government, aggressions remain in almost complete impunity in fragile judicial system, and the Colombian protection program does not provide an effective and holistic protection to human rights defenders and communities.
Therefore international accompaniment in a “post-accord” Colombia will remain essential for documenting the ongoing structural injustice and for advocating for international and national respect of human rights and recognition of grassroots contributions to a sustainable peace.
FORPP’s work focuses on addressing the underlying causes of conflict and broadening the definition of “peace” to include definitions from human rights defenders and communities who propose sustainable, life-affirming alternatives and non-violent resistance to war.
Providing Physical Presence, Political Accompaniment and Visibility
Apart from our proactive physical presence to dissuade physical attacks, our political accompaniment includes meetings with Colombian civil and military authorities to advise them of international presence and our concerns on the human rights situation; our meetings with embassies, UN and other international institutions, and advocacy in the US and Europe generate political costs to possible aggressors and help to activate a support network to pressure for the respect of human rights.
We provide visibility for the struggles of Colombian civil society through delegations, speaking tours, publications and an online presence, building bridges between communities in the global north and south and contributing to understand better what is going on in Colombia and how the issues here are connected to issues elsewhere.
Our hope is that with greater visibility and increased international support, we can open the political space for the very important work of social movements seeking justice and peace that include the poor, vulnerable and marginalized.
FORPP uses the tool of accompaniment not only to hold governments accountable for basic human rights abuses but also to hold multinational corporations accountable for environmental devastation and social, economic, and cultural rights abuses in order to limit further damage.
To learn more about our work, read our 2015 Annual Report.
Strengthening Capacities of Communities and Human Rights Defenders
Through our Colombian team members who have decades of experience in human rights work with indigenous, Afro-Colombian and peasant communities, we provide workshops on human rights, International Humanitarian Law, self-protection, digital security, emergency response and advocacy to communities involved in the defense of land, life and dignity.
Strengthening grassroots organizations implies leaderships with capacities to actively intervene in their legal and social processes and to be able to propose different political strategies for the defense of their human rights, peace and reconciliation.
San José de Apartadó Team
In 1998, FOR-USA awarded the annual Pfeffer Peace Prize to the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, nominated by the Colombia Support Network. In March 2000, FOR-USA’s Task Force on Latin America and the Caribbean (TFLAC) visited the Peace Community for the first time. In January 2002, after several visits, FOR-USA Colombia Peace Presence (CPP) was established and the new program coordinator and the first two accompaniers arrived in the Community. From this date until 2019, we maintained a permanent presence in this peace community, with a field team of two to three members. In 2019, due to financial strains on the organization and the changing context in Colombia, we made the difficult decision of ending our permanent accompaniment of the Peace Community. However, we maintain a political accompaniment and provide periodic physical accompaniment to the Peace Community.
In 2005, we established a team in Bogotá to provide support for the San José team, carry out the political work with government officials and the diplomatic core and accompany other Colombian partners who requested accompaniment.
Creation of FOR Peace Presence
In 2011, FOR USA began to restructure its programmatic work in an effort to focus its staff and resources domestically and strengthen its local chapters and affiliates. Such changes implied letting go of financial support for the international Colombia project. However, Colombia team members saw that the necessity for accompaniment continued to exist and, in 2014, FOR Peace Presence constituted itself as an independent organization from FOR-USA, registered in Colombia and the United States.