A promising joint endeavor by UNESCO and World Bank is underway in Colombia to foster more effective access to information on victims’ rights through the capacity building of key pilot stakeholders responsible for managing related communications.
After almost 50 years of internal armed conflict in the country, currently, over 8.5 million people have been recognized by the State as victims. With unprecedented progress having been made in recent years in the peace process, including the signing of a peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC in November 2016, the development and implementation of effective transitional justice programs and policies is critical to building peace in Colombia.
Government outreach programs and efforts by civil society organizations to raise awareness of victims’ rights and their exercise have a critical role to play in informing citizens about the programs and benefits for which they may be eligible, how to access them, and the ways in which these can participate in the creation and monitoring of related public policies. However, recent research has shown that many of the municipalities in regions most affected by the conflict lack media producing local news and that efforts to provide victims with access to information about their rights are not always having their intended impact due to challenges associated with coverage, understanding of the communicated information, and continuity in follow-up.
In response to this complex scenario, the World Bank and UNESCO, through funding provided by the World Bank’s Nordic Trust Fund, are working with the Government of Colombia and civil society organizations to develop a series of activities to strengthen their capacity to communicate to victims about their rights. For the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, Mr. Moez Chakchouk “Right to information is an essential element to foster other human rights, consolidate democracies and enhance sustainable development, therefore, this joint collaboration with the World Bank is an important demonstration of how the UN family can optimize their resources to cooperate with member states in achieving the goals established in the 2030 agenda".
Work includes the elaboration of a capacity-building toolkit, based in UNESCO’s previous experiences, including the Toolkit for Judges, to help communication-interested actors to think more strategically about how to adjust their strategies for communicating to victims about their rights. It also contemplates the provision of technical support to strengthen the management of communication efforts targeting the delivery of information on victims’ rights and how to exercise them; and the delivery of two capacity-building workshops and participation in the celebration of the International Day of Access to Information (28 September); and the Latin American Conference of Investigative Journalism (8-11 November).
UNESCO’s work in this area contributes to Goal 16 promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, ensuring public access to information and protecting fundamental freedoms.