Who we are
Mission, Vision and History
The International Office for Human Rights – Action on Colombia (Oidhaco) – is a network of European organisations and platforms that work to promote the comprehensive respect for human rights, the construction of positive peace and equitable social, economic and environmental relations based on solidarity. These objectives are met through the development of advocacy activities focused on the European Union, its member- and other European states, the United Nations system and other multilateral bodies, in coordination with allied Colombian human rights organisations.
The Oidhaco network is a focal point of advocacy activities focused on the European Union, its member- and other European states, the United Nations system and other multilateral bodies. It also helps influence public opinion on Colombia.
Membership of Oidhaco deepens coordination between its member organisations and platforms, facilitating their joint activities, their sense of belonging to the network and strengthens the activities they carry out in coordination with the Colombian human rights and peace platforms and social movements with which they are allied
Oidhaco is the only Brussels-based advocacy network dedicated exclusively to working on Colombia. With more than 35 mainly European members, drawn from 11 countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. But also including international organisations and networks.
Our origins lie in the solidarity work of civil society organisations, churches, and human rights committees from across Europe and further afield that came together in the early 1990s in response to the human rights violations occurring in Colombia in the context of the country’s armed conflict. Initiatives such as that developed by the HEKs, the cooperation agency of the Swiss protestant churches in 1993 provided a fruitful opportunity for different social sectors to share their growing concerns and develop and consolidate strategies. Additionally, international campaigns, such as the one organised by Amnesty International in 1994 established Colombia on the international human rights agenda.
In February 1995, a “Conference on Human Rights in Colombia” was organized in the European Parliament. Following the success of the conference, the participating organisations decided to establish permanent mechanisms. They believed it was important to continue discussing the issues examined in the conference and ensure continued coordination in order to strengthen advocacy on Colombia before the institutions of the European Union, member states and other European countries and to push for the creation of a dossier on Colombia by the then-United Nations’ Human Rights Commission in Geneva. Thus, in June 1995 the International Office for Human Rights – Action on Colombia was created, with 18 members, dedicated to carrying out advocacy activities on Colombia. Oidhaco operated as a de facto organisation for 14 years before becoming a Belgian not-for-profit organisation (asbl) in 2009. Since its foundation, further European organisations and international networks have joined, as full members or as observers.
The Colombia-Europe-United States Coordination Group (CCEEuropean Union) was founded at the same time, and in parallel to, Oidhaco. Over the years, two further Colombian human rights platforms have joined Oidhaco as strategic allies, namely the Alliance of Social Organizations for International Cooperation for Peace and Democracy in Colombia
and the Colombian Platform for Human Rights, Democracy and Development.