Land, culture and conflict

Land is part of the identity and culture of all communities the world over, and at the same time land lies at the root of many conflicts, because of the varying interests that surround it. We therefore understand that land lies at the centre of many of the issues facing the people accompanied by PBI. By telling their stories, we aim to shed light on their struggles and encourage international solidarity to advocate for their protection.

Land, culture and conflict


The struggle for land brings a new challenge each day, with communities surrounded by armed actors who seek territorial control to exploit natural resources without restriction. Many communities have been through decades of bureaucracy, pressure and threats and they are still awaiting the restitution of their lands. PBI accompanies community resistance processes and also lawyers’ collectives and organisations that defend human rights, who represent communities in the defence of their territories.

46. foto defensores
These are some of the faces of the brave people who continue to defend life and territory. Their resistance and love for their land are an inspiration and a source of motivation to continue the struggle despite the difficulties.

What unites them all is their love for their land, the connection they feel to their territory and a deep belief in social justice, fairness and the search for truly peaceful societies. PBI highlights the fundamental work carried out by each person who is dedicated, in one way or another, to the defence of land, territory and human rights; these are people who face increasingly complex security situations with courage and dignity, all because of the fundamental work they carry out.

50. El Garzal
Salvador Alcántara, a leader from the El Garzal community process (Bolívar department) calms a young cow during the morning milking session. Photo: Caldwell Manners/ECAP

Articles about Colombia

Land: So much in the hands of so few

Land and peace

The dark history of stolen land

Land: accumulated and badly used

Defending the land: a dangerous activity


This publication is a homage to these individuals and collectives who continue, in spite of everything, to defend nature, their culture and heritage, for future generations. We illustrate the issue of the unequal land ownership and its excessive exploitation in Colombia, with specific examples of people and organisations that we accompany in several regions of the country, highlighting the challenges they face in their work day after day. We contextualise this panorama with examples from other PBI projects in Latin America and in the African continent.

Case studies

Urabá: a contemporary history of violence and territory

Starting over in La Europa

“I am also called Magdalena”

The Jiw and Sikuani fight for their ancestral lands

Illustration: Maria Fernanda Lessmes

We are convinced that a thorough understanding of the issues surrounding land and territory will guide us in the design and creation of fairer societies, and also inform us on how to develop holistic protection measures for those who defend land, water and life.

PBI Colombia

*Cover photo: Francesca Volpi

Photo part of the exhibition “Vivir defendiendo derechos, 20 relatos gráficos por la defensa de los derechos humanos” shown in Madrid during 2017.

3 thoughts on “Land, culture and conflict”

    1. Hello! Well it’s a bit complicated as we are in Colombia. If you come to Bogotá please pass by the office, or if youy live in Germany ask the national group in Hamburg! best regards

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