El Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CPDH - 'The Permanent Committee for the Defence of Human Rights') was created out of the first National Forum for the Defence of Human Rights and Democratic Liberties, which took place in Bogotá in 1979. The CPDH has since been at the forefront of the struggle for the defence of human rights and democratic freedoms in Colombia. It focuses particularly on the protection of the civilian population caught in the crossfire of the armed conflict. The organisation has created spaces where the defence of human rights and the development of peace processes come together, emphasising the importance of civil participation. Led by a General Assembly formed of people from different social, political, and academic bodies, the CPDH has work groups in almost all of Colombia, and as such can extend its work across the country.
The CPDH promotes dialogue in search of a political solution to Colombia's armed conflict. It works to limit human rights violations, basing its work on the premise that weapons do not provide the only solution to the conflict, and that greater militarisation can in fact exacerbate the poor human rights situation – CPDH argues that this has been proven by the 'Democratic Security' policy employed since the arrival of President Uribe in 2002.
The organisation promotes the defence and protection of the integrity of human rights. It records, organises, analyses, and spreads information about human rights violations; facilitates the intervention of the international community in actions for the promotion of human rights; and promotes organised participation from civilians for the defence of human rights and the promotion of peace.
The CPDH promotes collaboration between different organisations through acts that advance the coordination, convergence and strengthening of the social movement for peace in Colombia. They participate in humanitarian and cross-institutional commissions for the observation of human rights and international humanitarian law. Internationally, in alliance with its partner organisation, the International Federation of Human Rights, the CPDH strives to enhance respect for the self-determination of all peoples as well as promoting the universality of human rights.
The CPDH supports popular acts for the advancement of peace through wide-ranging activities involving reflection and personal development. The organisation also organises forums on human rights, maintains a database of cases, carries out investigations and assists victims in the often arduous path in the search for justice.