The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) is delighted to present this session in collaboration with our guest speaker and former Scholar in Residence (2017 – 2018), Ligia Bolívar.

An Ignored Tragedy: The Humanitarian and Human Rights Impact by Irregular Armed Groups in Venezuela 
During the last decade, there has been a proliferation of irregular armed groups in Venezuela, including paramilitary groups, large organized crime gangs, and irregular organizations of Colombian origin. The growth of these irregular armed groups with territorial control and governance capacity is occurring in a context of power fragmentation, which generates serious governance problems and constitutes a barrier to the recovery of institutionalism, democracy, and the rule of law in the country. As well as a serious impact on the rights of the Venezuelan population and limitations on access to humanitarian action.

Considering the levels of penetration of these groups in Venezuelan territory, it would be illusory to propose dialogue or negotiation processes for the recovery of democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela without taking into account the role of these actors. As seen, in the context of the “Paz Total” (Total Peace) policy proposed by Colombian President Gustavo Petro, it is essential to make this information visible about the effects of the irregular Colombian armed groups in Venezuelan territory on the rights of the population, understanding that the existence of binational irregular armed groups demands binational responses. This topic is often absent from public debate, so it is expected that this text will reason to position it on the agenda in the negotiation spaces of both Venezuela and Colombia. The full report can be downloaded here.

Key questions this session will raise: 
  • What is the role of irregular armed groups in Venezuela?
  • How do irregular armed groups affect human rights and access to humanitarian action for the population in Venezuela?
  • What has been the institutional response to this reality so far?
  • What is the relationship between the recovery of governance in Venezuela and the “Paz Total” process in Colombia?
  • Could the continuation of President Gustavo Petro’s initiative on Venezuela be a space to make progress on this issue?
  • How can the findings of this research be leveraged in research, reflection, and advocacy spaces in Colombia/USA?

Ligia Bolívar

Ligia Bolívar, author of the report “An Ignored Tragedy” is an associate researcher at the Center for Human Rights at the Andrés Bellos Catholic University of Caracas, the founder of the Venezuelan Program for Education-Action on Human Rights and co-founder of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL, Washignton DC) and the International Council on Human Rights Policy (London – Geneva). She was honored with multiple awards including the Leonidas Proaño Human Rights Award, an award from the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First) and the Amnesty International’s Flame of Hope. She was a Scholar in Residence at the CHRGJ (2017 – 2018) and was granted a one-year fellowship as Fellow of the Global South at Dejusticia, Bogotá, 2019-2020. In 2019, she founded AlertaVenezuela, an International human rights analysis and advocacy team dedicated to produce information on human rights, humanitarian emergency, organized crime, and institutional crisis in Venezuela.
Event Information
  • October 11th, 2023
  • 12:00 pm-1:00 pm (ET)
  • Seminar Room 512, Wilf Hall
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