Social exclusion and human rights : lessons from US participation in Plan Colombia (2000-2015)
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This research study evaluates the strategies of Plan Colombia and the impacts on social exclusion as a human rights dimension. Special consideration is given towards the influence of the United States on human rights in Colombia, especially their collaboration during Plan Colombia in the years 2000-2015. As is related in the early chapters (including the literature review), armed conflict has marked Colombia since its inception as a republic. The deep historical roots of these conflicts have contributed greatly to the rise of polarized movements on both extremes of the political spectrum in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, both right-wing paramilitary groups and the country’s various leftist guerilla movements. After briefly discussing the origins of the recent armed conflict, the study the impact of counter-narcotics interventions on the activities of non-state armed actors and the implications of these activities for social exclusion and justice. This study offers an answer to the research question: In what ways did the US’ intervention via the policies of Plan Colombia alleviate or exacerbate social exclusion in Colombia? To fully investigate the topic, the researcher also explores three sub-research questions: How prominent was the teaching of human rights dimensions to Colombian officers under Plan Colombia? How did US military training programs respond to criticisms about human rights abuses? How can the armed conflict in Colombia inform the international community about the human rights abuses associated with counter-narcotics interventions? These research questions intend to account for three levels of influence on the armed conflict in Colombia: the international community writ large, the US, and Colombia’s domestic context. There is overlap between these three geographic scales, since they are constantly interacting; this analysis is simultaneously informed by all three. This study employs a case study methodology based on two data sources: semi-structured interviews with practitioners with on-the-ground experience in Colombia during Plan Colombia and archival research conducted at Western Hemisphere Institute for Security and Cooperation (WHINSEC) in Fort Benning, Georgia, and the Organization of American States’ Colombia Library in Washington, DC. The researcher draws on Nancy Fraser’s (2010) three dimensions of justice in order to provide a conceptual framework to analyze the data collected. The researcher was successful in addressing all research questions with the employment of two sets of data sources. The integration of the interviews along with the data archives was complementary as the weaknesses of one another were covered upon data analyses. Hence, the researcher could report that the US’ intervention via the policies of Plan Colombia impacted Colombia both in positive and negative ways. There were sources that reported the improvement of Colombia’s democracy and security under Plan Colombia. However, there were also data sources that noted and even highlighted the presence of social exclusion across the country. From the analyzed data archives, different groups and key actors continuously called for the U.S. government to answer and take action on countless and serious human rights abuses reported wherein U.S. military graduates and officials were involved.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internationalhttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Embargo Date: 2024-07-27
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Restricted until 27th July 2024
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