2003 Advocate Patricia Guerrero from Colombia is the founder and director of Liga de Mujeres Desplazadas (LMD) an independent, nonprofit organization that advocates for the restitution of the fundamental rights which displaced women do not have because of the armed conflict in Colombia.
As a lawyer committed to the defense of human rights, she represents the organization in front of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights and the Colombian Government. She directs the international outreach of the organization, which belongs to international networks such as the Global Network for Women´s Peace Builders, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development and the Meso-American Women's Human Rights Defenders' Network. Her relentless advocacy on behalf of the rights of Colombian women takes place both at the national and international levels. She is currently engaged in a high-impact court case in the Colombian Constitutional Court in defense of the rights of displaced women and their families. Additionally, she is the director of the Gender, Democracy and Human Rights Observatorywhich undertakes research in social and legal issues in Colombia.
During the program and after it Guerrero achieved astonishing accomplishments. She is responsible for the construction of the City of Women (Ciudad de las Mujeres) in Turbaco, which offers houses to displaced women and their families. As part of the City of Women, a cooperative and a credit fund have also been established. Liga de Mujeres has also developed a Strategy of Pacific Resistance against the armed conflict and the threats from the paramilitary against the leaders of the organization and the families that comprise it. About the influence that the Human Rights Advocates Program had on her work, she points out how she set a record regarding fundraising “When I joined the program, the organization didn't’t have any funding. During my stay at HRAP in 2003 and thanks to the contacts I made through the program, I was able to raise 900,000 USD with which the City of Women was built.” Patricia Guerrero’s work has been widely recognized. She has received the Human Rights Prize awarded by Sofasa Renault in Colombia, an Special Mention from the Jury of the National Peace Prize in Colombia, a Special Mention from the Jury of the King of Spain Human Rights Award and a recognition by the US Congress promoted by the National Endowment for Democracy. She has been invited to join an ad hoc advisory committee of approximately 20 organizations and individuals as part of the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict that the Nobel Women’s Initiative is launching.
When reflecting about her experience at HRAP she asserts, “ It changed my life forever and the life of displaced women in Colombia. I will always be grateful for the hospitality of the University of Columbia, which I consider my alma mater, and to the people who fought for a Colombian woman to take part in the HRAP in 2003, to J. Paul Martin (former ISHR director) who always believed in me, to SIPA students who supported my projects and made them viable, to Holly Bartling (former HRAP director) who taught me very well how to look for money to promote women’s rights, to all the good professors of the program and to the rest of the advocates, especially to Lidya Alpizar, with who we maintain a deep, unshakeable friendship. I also wish to thank my beloved daughters Juliana, Juanita y Silvana Brugman Guerrero, my granddaughter Micaela and my husband Aris, who sacrificed time with their mother and wife but who supported me cheerfully in the enterprise. Finally, I wish to acknowledge and thank those who continue to believe in the great potential of thousands of anonymous human rights defenders in the world.”
—Article composed by Marta Garnelo Caamano, ISHR Intern, June 2011
In 2017, Guerrero was awarded the American Bar Association's International Human Rights Award.