Peace Brigades International (PBI) is a non-denominational independent Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO). PBI has carried out observation and international accompaniment work in Colombia since 1994.
The mission of PBI is to provide a protective space for the work of human rights defenders that suffer attacks as a result of their efforts in favour of human rights.
PBI Colombia maintains a field presence, accompanying threatened individuals, communities and organisations. This physical accompaniment is complimented by elaborating and disseminating information about their risks and the work they are carrying out. In addition to this, PBI Colombia dialogues with civilian and military authorities, state institutions, accredited diplomatic corps present in Colombia, other NGOs, the Church, and international organisations—including the United Nations system—with the objective of informing about its presence and transmitting concerns about the situation of accompanied individuals, communities, and organisations.
PBI Colombia carries out its work in adherence to a philosophy of non-violence, within the framework of international human rights standards, and in strict accordance with Colombian national law. PBI Colombia works solely at the request of local organisations and does not interfere in either internal Colombian affairs or the work of accompanied individuals, communities or organisations. In addition, PBI does not attempt to supplant local initiatives for the defence of human rights, but rather to support them through its presence and through activities of international observation and accompaniment, as well as activities that support the reconstruction of the social fabric.
In the past, PBI has had projects in El Salvador, Indonesia, Canada, Haiti, Croatia, and Serbia. Currently, PBI maintains a presence in Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Nepal. PBI’s international structure is made up of an International Secretariat, the International Council, and a coordinating office in London. In addition, PBI has the support of national groups in 16 countries.
Why does PBI work in Colombia?
Various reports issued by United Nations special rapporteurs and agencies have found that the internal armed conflict continues to seriously affect a full recognition of human rights for the Colombian population. The incomplete demobilization of paramilitary groups, high levels of impunity, the persistence of forced displacement, the phenomena of forced disappearance, and threats, aggressions and harassment of members of human rights organisations, unions, journalists, as well as indigenous, afro-descendent and peasant farmer communities are key contributors to the infringements upon human rights. Violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) are also a generalised practice in Colombia, rising in some cases to the level of war crimes—the principle victims are the civilian population.
At the petition of national NGOs, PBI continues to provide a protected space for the actions of individuals and organisations that work in defence of human rights as well as communities in resistance that suffer threats, harassment, stigmatisation, unfounded accusations, de-legitimation, and direct attempts on their lives, so that they may continue their important work in favour of justice and peace.
PBI Colombia’s principle areas of work
The on-going presence of international observers and accompaniment as a protection mechanism to prevent the materialisation of threats received by members of human rights organisations and accompanied communities.
Permanent dialogue with Colombian civilian and military authorities, the accredited diplomatic corps in Colombia, and international institutions in order to express concerns and raise awareness in these diverse sectors with regards to the protection needs of accompanied individuals, organisations, and communities.
Periodic production and distribution of informative materials with the objectives of maintaining PBI Colombia’s support networks informed about the current situation in the country, giving voice to the concerns expressed by accompanied organisations and communities, and highlighting their protection needs.
Support in the reconstruction of the social fabric through workshops on self-protection in which PBI offers tools for security as well as emotional care for social organisations and their members.
Who works for PBI Colombia?
The Colombia Project is made up of international volunteers who complete a comprehensive training prior to joining the project that includes history and current events in Colombia and the work of international observation and accompaniment. In addition, some volunteers carry out specialised work in administration, coordination, communication, political dialogue, psychosocial support, training, and fundraising, among others. In Europe and the United States, PBI does political and public relations work with a geographic focus on the United States, Canada, and Europe. The project’s official language for all internal operations is Spanish.
PBI Colombia’s structure
- Three field teams in Colombia.
- A coordinating office in Bogota.
- Representatives in Washington and Brussels.