The Commission in Europe
In Europe, the Truth Commission has a list of 14 working groups which have been called Nodos. There are collaborative groups in and between the Nodos (inter-groups), in different working fields and themes.
The International Catalan Institute for Peace (ICIP) acts as the Technical Secretariat of the Commission in Europe, to articulate and facilitate the work of the Truth Commission with the victims living in Europe, within the framework of the implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord.
Truth Commission Support Group – Switzerland
The Swiss group supporting the Colombian Truth Commission (Nodo Suiza) was formed at the beginning of 2019, after several sensitisation meetings promoted by the Commission together with the International Catalan Institute for Peace (ICIP). Currently, there are seven volunteers in charge of collecting the testimonies given by Colombian exiles in the four linguistic regions that make up the Swiss Confederation. These volunteers were trained by the Commission in methodological workshops, focusing on interview compilation techniques, information management, and special psychosocial care for the victims who give their testimony. Nodo Suiza also participates in the structuring of international activities and promotes several initiatives to strengthen recognition and visibility of the Colombian exiles as one of the measures of integral reparation to the victims, through access to the truth.
With the financial support of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation, Swisspeace has acted as a facilitator and supporting agent for the work of the Colombian Commission in Switzerland, since the beginning of its clarification phase. Swisspeace is a Swiss foundation that promotes peace worldwide. Together with Nodo Suiza and as a contribution to the implementation of the peace process in Colombia, the foundation has promoted various sensitisation, informational, pedagogical, and dissemination activities on the importance of the elaboration of the final report to be produced by the Commission.
Compared to other Truth Commissions in the world, Colombia is a pioneer in integrating Colombians in exile and the migrant population as key, but invisible, actors in this process of rebuilding the truth about what happened in the country throughout over 50 years of internal armed conflict. This is why Nodo Suiza, made up mostly of Colombian political exiles, works together with associations representing the Colombian community in Switzerland and locally, to promote the Commission’s mission and activities.
Swisspeace is a practice-oriented peace research institute, which analyses the causes of violent conflicts and develops strategies for peaceful transformation. Its goal is to contribute to improving the prevention and transformation of conflict by producing innovative research, shaping discourses on international peace policies, developing and applying new tools and methodologies for peacebuilding, supporting and advising other peace actors, and providing and facilitating spaces for analysis, discussion, critical reflection and learning. Through its Programme for Addressing the Past and with funding from the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Swisspeace is helping the Truth Commission’s mandate to develop in Switzerland with the active participation of different sectors of civil society, victims abroad, and those in exile. It also seeks to collect and systematise lessons learned and best practices that may be useful in other contexts, related to the involvement of victims living abroad in processes of dealing with the past, particularly in truth commissions.
Truth Commission Support Group – Andalusia
The Andalusia group (Nodo Andalucía) is made up of people who individually and voluntarily support the work of the Colombian Commission for the Clarification of the Truth in that part of Spain. The group will collect testimonials from survivors of the Colombian armed conflict throughout the community, intending also to link the work of interviews with psychosocial support to those people or families who need it. “We are of Colombian and Spanish nationality and, supported by the work with victims of the armed conflict in Colombian territory and the academic research of the exile, we offer orientation related to the Truth Commission to those Colombians settled in the region”: Nodo Andalucía.
Truth Commission Support Group – France
At the end of 2018, a group of people from civil society (Colombian and French, exiles, students, peace activists, asylum seekers, etc.) created Nodo Francia to support and make visible the work of the Truth Commission in that country. During this time, we have carried out several events to raise awareness about the Commission’s work and the Colombian exile phenomenon, as well as taking testimonies in different cities in France. The group is supported by a wide network of French organisations and NGOs that cooperate with Colombia, including Amnesty International, Secours Catholique-Caritas France, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, France Amérique Latine (FAL), ACAT, among others. At this key moment to defend the construction of an inclusive, global and dignifying story with the victims at the centre, the Commission’s team in France intends to continue taking testimonies until the end of 2020, as well as to strengthen the work of recognising the victims and subsequently disseminating the Commission’s final report.
“I am convinced that Colombians currently abroad who have friends and foreign organisations in which they are acting – thanks precisely to their long standing experience in Europe and other continents – are in a position to approach the country with a more generous, freer and more transparent outlook because they are not trapped in the daily routine in which we, who live in the midst of the conflict, are forced to endure. And they can provide us with that deep, profound, long-term vision, which often escapes us. This is the vision ‘de l’esprit’, as they say in French”.
Francisco de Roux, President of the Truth Commission.
Meeting with Nodo Francia, Paris, November, 2018.
Truth Commission Support Group – Madrid
We are a group of exiles, migrants, and Spaniards who positively value the call being made by the new institutional framework, which has emerged from the agreements between the State and the FARC, and which recognises exile as a social experience, which is profound and silenced, and as the bearer of a significant part of that Truth that the country urgently needs to know if it is to reach a comprehensive understanding of the long and painful conflict. We represent an attempt to work, an eagerness to connect, a purpose of complicities that dance to the same salsa rhythm from a perspective involving diversity, just like a descriptive metaphor that emerged in the last meeting of the Europe groups held in Barcelona. We are confident that the prevalence of the Truth provided by the universe of victims abroad is more important than the interests of political forces and people in taking the spotlight. In this sense, we have to name the renewed hope represented by the Second Generation process, which reveals the transformation of the impacts caused by the expulsion from our territories into a creative, vigorous, and propositional force. Young people are incorporating a tremendous capacity for reinterpreting the world into our work, where there is no room for sectarianism or selfishness. Our commitment as a group is to facilitate and create conditions for the collection of testimonies and stories, which the team of interviewers in Madrid has assumed with great responsibility. The complexity of the undertaking reflects its pertinence, and we hope that the results of this exercise in Madrid will make an enlightening contribution to the Truth told in the Commission’s Final Report.
Truth Commission Support Group – Basque Country
The Euskadi group (Nodo Esukadi) was formally constituted at the beginning of 2020, as a result of the motivation to build and disseminate new narratives about the Colombian armed conflict with the participation of victims abroad. The interest arose from the actions of the Truth Commission in Bilbao in 2019: the second training session for testimonial taking, the meeting of the psychosocial support team, and two meetings involving second generations. The group includes people linked to academia and social and human rights organizations. It also has the support of Basque organizations, especially Kolektiba Colombia, a supporter of Colombia and guarantor of the Basque Programme for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, made up of the Mundubat Foundation, the Association Emigrad@s Sin Fronteras, the Peace with Dignity Association, the CEAR-Euskadi organization and the NGO Mugarik Gabe.
Truth Commission Support Group – Valencia
The Valencia group (Nodo Valencia) has been listening to and documenting the experiences of Colombians in exile in the provinces of Alicante, Castellón and Valencia in Spain since 2019. To this end, it has a team of interviewers, who work on a voluntary basis and who were trained by the Truth Commission in issues such as methodology, gender approaches, and psychosocial accompaniment. It is also supported by volunteers belonging to organisations or in a personal capacity, who join the work, to provide spaces for participation to victims forced to leave the country because of the armed conflict. For the Nodo Valencia, the experience and meaning of each personal story is of great importance, and this is why it strives to create bonds of trust and generate a favourable environment by caring for each person who gives his or her testimonial. It proposes different methodologies such as the taking of testimonials, information and ludic activities; informative workshops for organisations, listening sessions and truth encounters, transformative art activities such as theatre and dance, and support for the Living Archaeologies of Exile initiative. “If you are a victim of the conflict or know someone who has been, and wish to give your testimonial or want more information, contact the Valencia group for more details”: Nodo Valencia.
Truth Commission Support Group – Sweden
The Swedish group (Nodo Suecia) was formally constituted at the beginning of 2019, as a result of several days of work with exiles and Colombian organisations in Stockholm. These spaces convened by the Colombian Truth Commission are an important advancement in the implementation of the “victims” point of the Final Accord signed between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP in 2016. Formed by the Jaime Pardo Leal Association (JPL), Colppaz and Colombianätverket (Red Colombia), Nodo Suecia is supported by the Swedish Church and the Swedish Foundation for Human Rights. Participation is also open to private individuals who are not affiliated with any organisation, not only victims of the Colombian armed conflict and their families, but also to anyone interested in contributing with their experience and professional knowledge to the work of the Truth Commission. In Sweden, there are currently eleven interviewers residing in different cities who have been trained and authorised by the Truth Commission to take testimonials. The members of Nodo Suecia contribute and actively participate in the coordination and execution of activities that render possible the dissemination of the Truth Commission’s work abroad and the participation of exiles and victims living in this country: “we are currently about 20 people organised in different working groups. The Group currently has a majority of Colombian members and some Swedish members”: Nodo Suecia.
Truth Commission Support Group – UK and Ireland
The United Kingdom and Ireland group (Nodo Reino Unido e Irlanda) was created in early 2019 to support the Truth Commission and its mandate in this territory. The group is made up of individual or collective members of Colombian, British and Irish civil society interested in contributing and joining efforts to ensure that the agreements between the Colombian Government and the FARC on matters of truth are fulfilled in Colombia, as a mechanism for reparation and recognition of the victims of the Colombian armed conflict.
The Nodo includes interviewers trained to take testimonials for the Truth Commission and supports the process of collecting testimonials in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The group has been designing and implementing publicity, educational, cultural, and informational action plans in a voluntary, committed and responsible manner, in compliance with the Commission’s guidelines and in coordination with ICIP and other Nodos in Europe. Aware of the important historical moment for the Commission’s construction of the historical memory of the Colombian conflict, the group, even during the pandemic, has continued and will continue to conduct activities, for which it has a solid, diverse and inclusive work team that provides help and psychological support and care to interviewees and interviewers.
Truth Commission Support Group – Italy
The Italian group supporting the Colombian Commission for the Clarification of the Truth (Nodo Italia) brings together people and representatives of collectives and organisations (Italian and Colombian) that voluntarily support the work of the Commission from Italy. Among the main objectives are the dissemination of information on the objectives, work and achievements of the Commission; and support for the work of collecting voluntary testimonials from those who were direct and indirect victims of the conflict, actors in the armed conflict and those responsible, in the knowledge that the construction of the collective truth is an effort that includes all voices and all experiences. “Nodo Italia is designed to serve as a bridge and facilitator for Colombians living in Italy to participate in peacebuilding in Colombia”: Nodo Italia.
Truth Commission Support Group – CataloniaThe Catalan group (Nodo Catalunya) is a civil society initiative set up to support and promote the work of the Commission for the Clarification of the Truth. It is made up of Colombians and people of other nationalities, committed to contributing their time and work for peacebuilding and dignified life. “We do this based on RE: Reflourish Rebuild Re-think Remember Relate Reconciliation Revise Reflect Redefine Rename Re-start Repair Re-relocate Recreate Re-revive…”. Today we see an increase in the number of people in situations of forced migration and asylum seekers due to violence in Colombia. We are concerned about the precarious situation in which they find themselves and we try to offer them information, according to the skills of the people involved in the group.
The International Catalan Institute for Peace – ICIP
The International Catalan Institute for Peace (ICIP) is a research, dissemination, and action entity created by the Parliament of Catalonia in 2007 to promote the culture of peace in Catalan society and internationally, and to make Catalonia an active agent of peace in the world. ICIP acts as the Technical Secretariat of the Commission in Europe, to articulate and facilitate the work of the Truth Commission with the victims living in Europe, within the framework of the implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord. ICIP offers technical and logistical support to the activities organised by the Commission in Europe, coordinates the activities of the working groups established in different European countries (Nodos), and provides methodological support to the process of clarification, including the collection of victims’ testimonials, and social dialogue in Europe.
Truth Commission Support Group – Germany
The German group (Nodo Alemania) is made up of members of civil society (of Colombian nationality and some of German nationality) who, in their personal capacity or as representatives of associations, support the work of the Truth Commission in that country. The Nodo Alemania is supported by German organisations that cooperate with Colombia. In Germany, testimonials will be collected in different cities throughout 2020.
Inside the Supporting Group in Germany there are collaborative working groups. The interviewers group was trained by the Commission for its work of collecting testimonials in that country. The interviewers in Germany have an email address that is available exclusively for contacting them about the collection of testimonials. Write the interviewers in Germany: email@example.com
“We have also set out to create spaces where memories, pains, joys, words, gestures and challenges that arise from reliving history can be dealt with in creative ways; for example, an initial collective confidence-building workshop, a biographical writing workshop, a weaving workshop and a theatre workshop. All those interested can choose one or more proposals that they feel will help them most to resignify their experience”: Nodo Alemania.
The German-Colombian Peace Institute – CAPAZ
The CAPAZ Institute is a network of academic cooperation between universities, research centres, professors and researchers in Colombia and Germany, who investigate and work together to understand the complex dynamics, progress and challenges surrounding the implementation of the peace accords and peace building in Colombia. CAPAZ Institute also cooperates with civil society organisations, government entities, multilateral and international cooperation agencies. It is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office through the German Academic Exchange Service – DAAD. In 2020, CAPAZ received funds of approximately 138.000 Euros from the German Federal Foreign Office to accompany the work of Nodo Alemania from an academic perspective. As a founding member of the CAPAZ Institute and representative in Germany of the consortium, Justus Liebig University Giessen supports the project of accompanying the activities of the German Nodo.