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NDI

The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

Colombia

Colombia

Despite relative political stability, Colombian democracy has been undermined by ongoing violence generated by left-wing guerrillas as well as paramilitary groups and their successors, both with ties to the extensive narcotics industry. Since taking office in 2010, President Juan Manuel Santos has supported an ambitious agenda for social reform, passing a Victims and Land Restitution law in 2011 and initiating peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC) in 2012. Implementation of any agreement will not begin until there is consensus reached on five policy points: rural development, the reincorporation of the FARC into civilian life and political participation, an end to the armed conflict, drug trafficking and victims’ rights. 

NDI's activities in Colombia are dedicated to the memory of Nevio Fernando Serna Díaz, a mayor who participated in NDI's Political Leadership Program and was brutally assassinated in May 2000. 

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Strengthening Legislative Processes to Prepare for Peace

In May 2013, the Effective Participation of Victims of Armed Conflict Protocol, Resolution No. 0388, entered into effect. The protocol provides for the establishment of Victim’s Participation Roundtables (VPRs), which serve as mechanisms through which victims and local citizens make decisions, conduct oversight and advocate for policies in conjunction with the Unit for the Care and Reparation of Victims (Unidad para la Atención y Reparación Integral a las Víctimas, Victims Unit) during implementation of the Victims Law.

Since February 2013, NDI has helped VPRs in the departments of Antioquia, Atlántico, Bolívar, Chocó and Nariño elect representatives; develop internal regulations, an annual plan and oversight mechanisms; and train victims’ organizations to participate in the VPRs.  Participating VPRs have also conducted public hearings with local councils.  For the 2014 elections, NDI and local partners developed a “Pact for Victims,” which encouraged candidates to protect victims if elected. The mayor of Cartagena and the gubernatorial candidates for Chocó signed the pact.  Both officials have since met with local VPRs.  NDI is also working with political parties and members of Congress from target municipalities to improve constituent relations, including the use of technology (https://ciudadaniaycongresistas.org/es) and social networking tools. At the national level, NDI works with political parties regarding implementation of the Victims Law and other political reform initiatives.  These initiatives include working with the Victims Unit on a collective reparations process for local council members and legislators.

In 2013-2014, NDI collaborated with local partners to hold forums on citizen participation mechanisms and potential reforms to the Citizen Participation Law. NDI also provided technical assistance to the disabled rights organization Inside Ocean (Mar Adentro) to hold a public hearing on a policy related to disabled people that was passed by the municipal council of Cartagena in 2011, but has yet to be implemented. NDI assistance focused on training local groups on signature collection, hearing procedures and building relations with government officials. 

Building Consensus for a New Mining Code

Mining and other extractive industries are growing sectors of the Colombian economy in Chocó and other conflict-prone regions with large Afro-Colombian and indigenous populations. A growing debate in Colombia seeks to balance economic, environmental and social issues when considering the future of the mining industry. To better prepare representatives of local communities in Chocó to address local conflicts and consolidate proposals regarding extractive industries, from 2012-2013 NDI worked with those groups to enhance their consensus building and proposal development skills and to encourage dialogues between civil society, the government and the private sector.

Support for Electoral Transparency

Since the 2007 municipal elections, NDI has organized candidate debates, helped implement voter education campaigns and trained party poll watchers.  NDI has also provided Transparency for Colombia (Transparencia por Colombia, TPC) assistance for its Clear Accounts financial reporting software (www.cnecuentasclaras.com). In 2010, this software was donated to the electoral authorities and has since been designated as the required mechanism for all candidates and parties participating in elections to file legally mandated reports of campaign income and expenses.

In 2010, the Institute assisted the organization Election Observation Mission (Misión de Observación Electoral, MOE) on strategy and logistics for the deployment of 1,762 observers in 11 departments. For the presidential elections, NDI supported MOE’s deployment of 1,065 observers in the same regions.  From 2011 to 2012, NDI worked with MOE to monitor voter registration in priority areas, deploy a nationwide random sample to produce information on the quality of elections and collaborate with civil society to recommend improvements for the enforcement of electoral law in preparation for the 2014 elections.

In 2011, NDI supported New Rainbow Corporation (Corporación Nuevo Arco Iris, CNAI) to produce a report on political networks and the influence of illegal armed groups on the electoral process in 50 at-risk municipalities. CNAI identified candidates with links to illegal groups and shared a list of flagged candidates with political parties before the candidate nomination process ended. In response to report findings, parties purged their lists of more than 1,700 candidates.

Political Participation

Since 2000, NDI has worked with a broad group of political parties on issues such as: candidate selection models; use of new technologies; communication strategies; training party pollwatchers; fostering inclusion of underrepresented sectors; facilitating interaction between party caucuses, party structures and party members; and strengthening internal party oversight bodies.

Since 2000, NDI has also worked to promote the participation and greater inclusion of women, Afro-Colombians, indigenous persons, Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities and youth in Colombian politics. These efforts have included support for campaigns promoting women’s participation and candidacies as well as the women’s congressional caucus; support for a youth congressional caucus; technical assistance to strengthen or generate party secretariats that target women’s or Afro-Colombian members; and work with women’s, youth, LGBT and Afro-Colombian organizations to improve their members’ advocacy and candidate skills.

From 2007 to 2012, NDI conducted programming to increase the capacity of citizens in the post-conflict regions of Chocó and Montes de María to organize politically and to increase the responsiveness of Colombia’s national political parties to the unique concerns and priorities of those regions. NDI also worked with local civil society networks to improve advocacy for policy priorities and with party caucuses in municipal councils to improve oversight and accountability.

Political Leadership Program

From 2000-2006, NDI included representatives of Colombian parties in its regional Political Leadership Program (LP) to strengthen the skills of emerging political leaders to promote the modernization and renewal of political parties.  Participating parties included the Conservative, Liberal, Democratic Alternative Pole, Indigenous Social Alliance, Alas Team Colombia, Party of the U and Radical Change. The one-year program began with a regional leadership development seminar and continued in-country with the participants implementing concrete party-strengthening projects. Project results included better-consolidated training, organization and communication structures in parties at the national level and increased participation of women and youth in national and state party structures. 

Contact Information

For more information about these programs, use our contact form or contact:

Francisco Herrero, Resident Senior Director
fherrero@ndi.org

Katy Mudge, Senior Program Manager
kmudge@ndi.org

Austin Robles, Program Officer
arobles@ndi.org

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Published Publication Title Author
03/06/2014 Equal Access: How to Include Persons with Disabilities in Elections and Political Processes
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
10/23/2013 Increasing Women’s Political Participation Through Effective Training Programs: A Guide to Best Practices and Lessons Learned
Training Manual
National Democratic Institute
04/03/2012 Declaration of Global Principles for Nonpartisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations and Code of Conduct for Nonpartisan Citizen Election Observers and Monitors
Declaration
10/31/2011 Empowering Women for Stronger Political Parties: A Good Practices Guide to Promote Women's Political Participation (Now available in Burmese)
Manual|Handbook
Julie Ballington
05/10/2010 Remarks of Nimia Vargas for NDI's 25th Anniversary Dinner Celebration
Speech
Nimia Vargas
12/01/2008 NDI Reports: A Review of the Activities of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs
Newsletter
National Democratic Institute
04/22/2008 Guia Practica Sobre el Regimen de Bancadas
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute
10/01/2007 Changing the Face of Politics: Women in Politics
Brochure
National Democratic Institute
03/01/2007 Political Parties and Civil Society: Working Together to Deliver Solutions to Citizen Concerns.
Manual|Handbook
Erica Breth
12/01/2005 NDI 2005 Annual Report
Report
National Democratic Institute
10/27/2005 Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct for International Election Observers
Manual|Handbook
01/01/2005 Guia Pedagogic Elecciones 2006
Manual|Handbook
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung
01/01/2005 La Cultura Politica de la Democracia en Colombia, 2004
Report
National Democratic Institute
05/01/2004 Legislative Public Outreach on Poverty Issues, Parliaments and Poverty Series, Toolkit No. 3
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
05/01/2004 Parliamentary-Civic Collaboration for Monitoring Poverty Reduction Initiatives, Parliaments and Poverty Series, Toolkit No. 2
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
05/01/2004 Legislative-Executive Communication on Poverty Reduction Strategies, Parliaments and Poverty Series, Toolkit No. 1
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
01/01/2001 Promoviendo Transparencia y Gobernabilidad: Experiencias en la Republica Argentina, Colombia, y los Estados Unidos, Buenos Aires
Report
National Democratic Institute Banco Mundial
01/01/1998 Promoviendo el Derecho a la Informacion y Estrategias Anti-Corrupcion: Experiencias en Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Estados Unido
Report
National Democratic Institute
01/01/1997 Political Parties and the Transition To Democracy: A Primer in Democratic Party-Building for Leaders, Organizers and Activists
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute
08/30/1995 Actitudes Hacia los Partidos Políticos en America Latina: Informe Sobre una serie de Focus Groups Realizados en México, El Salva
Report
National Democratic Institute, Graciela Romer & Asociados