Much of my work as Chair of the IASSW Human Rights Committee has involved statement/ press release writing on issues that are usually related to persecutions, state violence, disasters etc. This time, our communique is very different. Time to share the wonderful news of the Peace Agreement in Colombia and celebrate the enormous contribution of social work educators and practitioners. Working with Colombian colleagues, listening to the stories of violence survivors and co-organising last year's conference in Medellin has been a truly transformative experience. Below you may find the statement Hernando Muñoz Sanchez and I prepared on behalf of IASSW (also available here)
IASSW Statement on the Peace Agreement in Colombia
The International Association of Schools of Social Work would like to express its joy for the signing of the final peace agreement between Colombia’s government and the FARC-EP guerrilla movement. This agreement opens a bright new chapter for the people of Colombia. Colombian Society suffered from more than half a century of armed conflict which resulted in a quarter of a million deaths and displaced almost seven million people from their homes.
We would also like to celebrate the enormous contribution of social work educators and practitioners towards achieving peace. Social work educators and practitioners, under the most difficult circumstances, promoted the message of reconciliation and supported the victims of the conflict. IASSW have continuously supported Colombian educators and last year organised a well attended international conference which attracted academics from more that fourteen countries, discussing social work approaches to peace.
We are determined to continue supporting Colombian social work educators in their next major task, the facilitation and nurturing of a smooth transition to peace.
Hernando Muñoz Sanchez, IASSW board-member and Vice Dean at the University of Antioquia, commented on the Peace Agreement:
“Today, I can say that I feel truly happy. For today is a day of hope. A day that created opportunities to build something new. Our country has suffered a lot. The signing of the agreements between the Government and FARC, opens the unparalleled possibility to stare at this horizon of many colors, and dream. Today, we can look all Colombians into the eyes, regardless of skin color, race, sex, social class, sexual orientation, gender identity, and shout out loud “We believe again”. The war has created such a great damage in this country. It made people suffer and destroyed the country’s infrastructure.
For this reason, I urge all Colombians to say YES in the Peace Referendum. Colombians today are facing a tremendous opportunity to build peace and look at the future with confidence. So we say YES. YES to forgiveness and reconciliation, YES to land reform, YES to victims’ reparations.
Since last Monday, social workers’ job in Colombia has regained a new, wonderful meaning: this of contributing to peace building through the utilisation of our knowledge, experience, and confidence.”