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, Cauca, Chocó, La Guajira, Nariño and Valle de Cauca 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, while the city councils in Quibdó, Chocó and Pasto, Nariño have established special commissions to monitor the Victims Law and victims' issues. 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. 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 had yet to be implemented. NDI assistance focused on training local groups on signature collection, hearing procedures and building relations with government officials. In April 2015, Inside Ocean, with the support of 22 other organizations, successfully collected enough signatures to oblige the city council to organize a public hearing -- the first of its kind in Cartagena. As a result of the hearing, which was attended by more than 600 people, the local government began conducting a census to measure Cartagena’s disabled population.
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.
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.
In 2015, NDI began programming working with political parties and candidates in the pre-electoral period to develop platforms and draft government plans regarding policy proposals that support national reconciliation, including addressing victims’ needs. To increase public awareness and ensure greater attention to policy options, NDI hosted municipal candidate debates focused on policy proposals and trained journalists on analyzing different public policy options to improve election coverage of peace, reconciliation and victims’ rights. In the post-electoral period, NDI is training newly elected officials on skills to better implement public policies and government plans that would contribute to generating conditions for national reconciliation in post conflict zones.
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, youth and members of LGBTI communities in national and state party structures.
For more information about these programs, use our contact form or contact:
Francisco Herrero, Resident Senior Director
Katy Mudge, Senior Program Manager
Austin Robles, Program Officer
Sarah Stern, Senior Program Assistant