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As a vastly diverse country, Colombia's approach to pluralism is closely tied to its peace process.

Assessed Groups

  • Afro-descendants
  • Indigenous groups
  • Peasants
  • Roma

Colombia is one of the most unequal countries in Latin America and has been deeply affected by over 50 years of internal armed conflict. Years of conflict have deeply impacted the lives, cultures and traditions of many ethnic and social class groups. These include Afro-Colombians, Indigenous, peasant and Roma groups. In a promising development, the election in May 2022 brought a government to power that has been very vocal about the need to respond to minority ethnic groups’ needs and to better address how the armed conflict has impacted their lives. The Global Pluralism Monitor report for Colombia explores the gaps and opportunities for these four groups and reveals that a peace process cannot be pluralistic, or fully complete, if it does not address the needs of ethnic and marginalized groups. This assessment was completed in 2021.

Key Takeaways

Colombia shows a lack of political will to partake in crucial international commitments.

Colombia has not acceded to international laws or treaties regarding minority groups’ rights. For example, the state has not yet recognized the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, despite having one of the largest populations of Afro-descendants in Latin America.

This has enabled a lack of accountability for issues impacting Afro-Colombians. Consequently, violence, exclusion and erasure of Afro-Colombians are perpetuated.

In response to exclusion, social mobilization for human rights is strong.

Rights-based organizations and community leaders have a long history of working together to demand full protection under the law. This includes, for example, protesting and taking legal action to develop the rule of law.

Overall, this shows a strong dedication to expanding legal equality, and ensuring the government implements the necessary policies to realize that equality.

Solidarity among marginalized peoples has become a key aspect of mobilization.

There is a lot of collaboration and coordination among key actors in community leadership networks. Findings from the Pluralism Perceptions Survey likewise suggest higher levels of trust between Afro-descendants, Indigenous peoples and Roma communities.

This represents a source of transformative power for national leaders and decision-makers, as these actors can be significant partners in charting a path towards a more pluralistic Colombia.

Drivers of Pluralism in Colombia

These practices are driving and enhancing pluralism in Colombia.

Strong Civil Society

Across Afro-Colombian and Indigenous civil society, a strong sense of solidary has helped present unified claims to courts and coordinate protests.

Pluralistic Peace Process

The Final Peace Accord is unique due to its Gender and Ethnic Chapters, which recognize the intersectional impact of the conflict.

Courts as Allies

Courts in Colombia have continuously ruled in favour of Indigenous rights, and tutelas have made claims-making more accessible for all.


Ratify relevant international treaties

Colombia could ratify international human rights treaties and their respective optional protocols to recognize the authority of international bodies overseeing their enforcement. In doing so, Colombia can better support and hold itself accountable to its Afro-Colombian, Indigenous and Roma populations.

Extend constitutional and legal protections for Indigenous groups and Afro-descendants Indigenous groups and Afro-descendants have.

Indigenous groups and Afro-descendants have been the most impacted by the conflict. The new Colombian government has the opportunity to fulfill its campaign promises by extending constitutional and legal protections to these groups.

In addition, they could create protections for the self-determination and diversity of other groups facing marginalization, such as the Roma people and the peasantry. Overall, the establishment and respect of autonomous communal authorities is essential.

Protect and respect minority rights through the implementation and enforcement of constitutional mandates

Existing laws, policies and constitutional provisions already provide protections to minority groups. Colombia can further protect minority group rights by fully enforcing these laws and explore the reasons for the lack of enforcement.

Improve information about rights violations and impunity

Colombia has the opportunity to collaborate with civil society groups and international institutions to improve data collection on human rights violations and impunity. In doing so, Colombia can produce complete and systematic data on minority or oppressed groups and create policies that better address their needs. 


Legal commitments

International commitments

Average score: 4

Colombia has a long tradition of ratifying international treaties. Yet, recent governments have failed to evenly implement or monitor these treaties. Colombia is one of the few Latin American countries with a high population of Afro-descendants.  As such, their lack of support on resolutions or treaties related to racial discrimination is worrying.

National commitments

Average score: 7

The Colombian Constitution of 1991 was groundbreaking in its recognition of ethnic rights. Although there are many laws protecting Indigenous groups, the same cannot be said for Afro-descendants or Roma people. For example, the Constitution has only one article about Afro-descendant rights and it is often misinterpreted or even reversed when implemented.

Inclusive Citizenship

Average score: 7

In general, Colombia has inclusive citizenship practices. Citizenship is granted to individuals born of Colombian parents or if their parents are residents at the moment of birth.  It can also be requested by Indigenous peoples sharing frontiers with Colombia. 


Policy implementation

Average score: 3

Despite the existence of multiple laws, rulings and policies for ethnic groups, these are seldom implemented. For example, affirmative action policies for Afro-Colombians tend to be denied. Indigenous groups were mostly left out of the National Development Plan (2018-2022). Finally, peasants continue to wait for the integral rural reform promised in the 2016 Peace Accords.

Data Collection

Average score: 5

Data collection efforts in Colombia tend to be incomplete due to poor coverage and lack of training. Additionally, it is difficult to access data about human rights or violence in the context of the conflict, particularly in remote areas. In the worst cases, these issues have resulted in statistical genocide of Afro-descendent and Roma people.

Claims-making and contestation

Average score: 2

Afro-descendant and Indigenous groups use writs (formal written orders by courts) for the protection of constitutional rights (tutela) to compel, or encourage, enforcement of those rights. When tutelas fail, large mobilizations and Indigenous mingas (Indigenous Quechua word for ‘collective action’) are carried out. Although groups can make claims freely, they are often met with state repression and wider violence.

Leadership for Pluralism

Political Parties

Average score: 3

Although many political parties embrace diversity as a value, they are indifferent to it in practice. There are representation quotas for both Afro-descendants and Indigenous peoples, but their representation is still limited. This is due to clientelism, poverty and their physical distance from the polls. In contrast, neither Roma people nor peasants have special political representation quotas. 

News Media: Representation (A) and Prominence of Pluralistic Actors (B)

Average score: 4

Media spaces in Colombia do not offer many opportunities for the contribution or representation of minority groups. In response, Indigenous groups, Afro-Colombians and peasants have created their own media networks. Although these are meant to educate the larger population on their culture and perspectives, they have limited reach.

Civil Society

Average score: 7

Civil society in Colombia is largely made up of organizations composed of ethnic and minority groups. Some organizations are exclusionary and fail to address ethno-racial issues, but these are the exception. Several human rights organizations, in contrast, promote an intersecting approach to ethnic rights. 

Private Sector

Average score: 3

For the most part, the private sector does not respect diversity. While peasants are an important part of the workforce, they rarely take part in ownership. Afro-Colombians, Indigenous groups and Roma peoples are excluded from the private sector almost entirely. When included, they often occupy non-managerial roles.

Group-Based Inequalities


Average score: 4

Political representation quotas have promoted the creation of diverse parties. For example, Indigenous and Afro-Colombian parties have become more common. Still, these tend to be minority associations. Moreover, organizations that promote progressive agendas are more likely to be targeted by violence.


Average score: 2

Colombia has the greatest inequalities across subethnic groups in Latin America. The armed conflict has negatively affected ethnic groups, particularly through threats of displacement and dispossession. Indigenous and Afro-Colombians often live below the poverty line and receive wages below the legal minimum. Peasants and Roma people have also been affected by the conflict, mainly due to a lack of access to land and displacement.


Average score: 2

Access to social well-being, education and health is vastly unequal across Colombia. Afro-Colombians are the most affected, especially concerning access to water and education. High levels of social inequality also exist between Indigenous groups and peasants compared to the general population. Notably, Roma people have above-average access to basic services, and high literacy levels in their populations.


Average score: 2

Cultural practices are respected so long as they do not represent a threat to the status quo. This has resulted in the deterioration of cultural practices. For example, Roma people are increasingly not using their native language. Indigenous groups, on the other hand, cannot access social services that align with their cosmovisions (i.e. their perspectives on the world and the meaning they assign to life).

Access to Justice

Average score: 2

Afro-descendants, Indigenous groups, peasants and Roma people are subject to extensive rights violations. These cases often go unheard due to institutionalized forms of racial discrimination and impunity. Because of a lack of accountability in the justice sector, these groups have not yet received significant reparations for past rights violations.

Inter-group relations and belonging

Intergroup violence

Average score: 1

State and non-state actors exert violence against ethnic groups who hold different views. Nearly 20% of Indigenous peoples in Colombia suffered harm as a result of the conflict. Social leaders from peasant and Afro-Colombian communities are often victims of homicides. These groups have been targeted more frequently due to the lack of implementation of the Peace Agreement.

Intergroup trust

Average score: 4

There is fairly high trust between members of different oppressed groups in Colombia. Peasant, Indigenous and Afro-Colombian organizations often converge and collaborate. However, these groups are also frequently subjected to stigmatizing narratives in the public sphere.

Trust in Institutions

Average score: 5

Trust in public institutions varies depending on the group. There is limited data on ethnic groups’ perceptions of public institutions. Findings show that ethnic groups view the services provided by the state as created without any consideration for their cultures or traditions.

Inclusion and Acceptance

Average score: 2

Overall, Colombia is a highly exclusionary country. The distribution of resources, services and power is highly unequal between groups. Although peasant, Indigenous, Afro-descendant and Roma groups feel Colombian, they are discriminated against. In other words, they are not considered by others to be Colombian.

Shared Ownership of Society

Average score: 4

Minoritized groups tend to have stronger feelings of ownership in their own communities than in the wider society. These groups still insist on mobilizing for change and participating in politics. Although their sense of belonging is low, their desire to mobilize and participate shows a significant dedication to improve Colombian society and make it more accepting of differences.