Brooklyn Journal of International Law

First Page



On November 24, 2016, Colombia ended a half-century civil war with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) with the signing of the Peace Accord. While there was hope that there would be a new era of peace and reconciliation, Colombia is consistently ranked as the most dangerous country in the world for human rights defenders. As a party to core international human rights treaties that protect the rights to life, physical integrity, and the right to defend human rights, Colombia is obligated to protect these rights and take the necessary preventative measures to protect human rights defenders. Accordingly, Colombia has embodied the right to defend human rights in its Constitution and in its respective legal rules and has created governmental structures with the primary aim of protecting human rights defenders. Despite this, human rights defenders continuously denounce the challenges they face in receiving adequate and preventative protection from their government. This Note seeks to examine the ways in which the legal and judicial mechanisms in place before and after the Peace Accord fall short in effectively protecting human rights defenders’ lives. It analyzes two legal mechanisms intended to protect human rights defenders and their actual impact when implemented. This Note proposes the expansion of protections in definition and in physical protection of human rights defenders and suggests the strengthening of a mechanism of criminal and civil accountability for the institutions that do not respond with due diligence.