Colombian Truth Commission’s Report: Achievements and setbacks one year after publication

READ UN’s Resolution to support implementation of the Truth Commission’s recommendations

On 28 of June 2023 marked the first year of the publication of the final report of the Colombian Truth Commission.  The report was the product of thousands of hours of investigation over a 5-year period that condensed over 14,000 individual and collective interviews and hearing from over 30,000 victims from different regions and sectors of Colombia and exiles living abroad. 

Colombia’s Truth Commission was established as a result of the 2016 Peace Accord between the Colombian Government and the rebel force, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia FARC- EP. After listening to thousands of testimonies, studying more than 1,000 reports submitted by groups and organisations, and analysing in depth the vast amount of information available, the Commission presented the results of its work in ten volumes with a call for a “great peace” (Paz Grande).

The Commission made a series of proposals in the different volumes based on the evidence gathered. The recommendations are aimed at resolving the root causes of the conflict and the conditions that made its persistence possible. In addition to this, they lay the foundations for an equitable society, guaranteeing basic needs, giving effect to fundamental rights, and resolving inevitable differences and tensions without violence. Read the executive summary here

Follow up and Monitoring Committee challenges and the role of the International Community

In August 2022, the Follow Up and Monitoring Committee was in place to monitor the progress of the implementation of the recommendations made in the Truth Commission’s Report. These recommendations will be monitored in terns of their implementation by this committee over a seven year period (2022 to 2029).

Truth Commission Setbacks and Achievements

The Truth Commission’s report was published just before the change of government. The new government of President Gustavo Petro and Vice President Francia Márquez, was elected on a manifesto committed to the full implement the recommendations of the Truth Commission’s Report and of the Peace Accord. This created a favourable political context for their implementation and for sustainable peace in Colombia.

However, this was not without difficulties, Petro entered office on 7 August 2022, and inherited a very difficult context, during his first year Petro struggled to maintain his congressional coalition. Julia Eva Cogollo, member of the Follow-Up Committee, states that one of the major setbacks for the recommendations of the Truth Commission was the non-approval by the National Congress of article 8 in the National Development Plan (PND)[i] that would have established the roles and responsibilities of the different State institutions for the implementation of the recommendations made in the Truth Commission’s report and provided a budget.[ii].

Despite the setbacks, there have been achievements.

The intention of the Truth Commission was that the testimonial and documentary material from the report would serve as an educational tool. Working with that goal in mind, the Truth Commission delivered the 10 volume-report to the Colombian General Archive which will make this research available to the general public from August 2023. As part of the educational journey, 1200 schools and universities in Colombia have been taking part in the “school embrace the truth campaign” which is focusing on explaining the importance of the Integral System of Peace created after the signing of the 2016 Peace Accord between the Colombian Government and FARC-EP.

[i] PND: Senado elimina artículo sobre la Comisión de la Verdad y el debate continúa | EL ESPECTADOR

[ii] Article 8: “The national entities on which the recommendations of the final report of the Commission for the Clarification of the Truth fall will accept them progressively according to their viability, competences and capacities. The Administrative Department for the Presidency of the Republic will define the guidelines, roles and responsibilities of the competent entities. The National Planning Department will provide technical support for the definition of the guidelines and will adapt the Integrated Information System for the Post-Conflict – SIIPO-, as a tool for the follow-up of recommendations”.

Artículo 8: “Las entidades del orden nacional sobre las cuales recaigan recomendaciones del informe final de la Comisión para el Esclarecimiento de la Verdad las acogerán de forma progresiva según su viabilidad, competencias y capacidades. El Departamento Administrativo para la Presidencia de la República definirá los lineamientos, roles y responsabilidades de las entidades competentes. El Departamento Nacional de Planeación brindará apoyo técnico para la definición de los lineamientos y adecuará el Sistema Integrado de Información para el Posconflicto – SIIPO-, como herramienta para el seguimiento de recomendaciones”.