Since May 2013, Watchlist’s partner organization the Coalition against the involvement of boys, girls and youth in the armed conflict in Colombia (COALICO) has been sponsoring an academic course on advocacy and protection of children and youth for a group of fifty university students who are members of civil society organizations in Buenaventura and Popayan, Colombia. The course aims to improve civil society organizations’ capacity to engage in advocacy on the protection of children and youth affected by armed conflict, while strengthening the relationship between these organizations and academia. The course covers a variety of topics including basic child protection concepts, national and international legal frameworks on the protection of children and youth, public policy, gender perspectives, prevention, risk mapping and response, and psychosocial assistance to children and youth affected by armed conflict.
Offered for the second time, this course allows the participating students to design and implement advocacy plans that have previously produced interesting results, such as the creation of an advocacy forum on child protection that would allow the students and local authorities to meet bi-monthly, engaging on specific issues. The initiative is also contributing to the creation of a research group hosted by the University of Cauca that will provide students and academics with a venue to further develop the knowledge on the protection of children affected by armed conflict.