Virginia M. Bouvier

Senior Advisor

Virginia M. Bouvier is senior advisor for Peace Processes. She joined USIP in January 2003 and has headed USIP’s Colombia team since 2006. She was seconded in 2012-13 to serve as a process design expert for the United Nations Standby Team of Mediation Experts. For the previous seven years, she was an assistant professor of Latin American literature and culture at the University of Maryland. From 1982 to 1989, Bouvier served as senior associate at the Washington Office on Latin America, where she focused on Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Bouvier has also served as a consultant and research director for the Women’s Leadership Conference of the Americas, a joint project of the Inter-American Dialogue and the International Center for Research on Women, and as a consultant for USAID, UN-Women, World Bank, Levi Strauss Foundation, Levi Strauss and Co. and the C.S. Fund. Her areas of expertise include Colombia, mediation and peace processes, conflict analysis and prevention, civil society, and gender and peacebuilding. Dr. Bouvier blogs at Colombia Calls.

She is a graduate of Wellesley College, has an MA in Spanish from the Univ. of South Carolina, and holds a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley in Latin American studies.


Expert In the News

Articles & Analysis from this Expert

October 3, 2016

Colombian voters yesterday defied projections by pollsters and rejected a peace accord that their government had negotiated during four years of talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP). The agreement was intended to end more than a half century of violent conflict that has left well over 220,000 dead and close to 8 million victims, including more than 6 million people forcibly displaced. USIP’s Senior Advisor for Peace Processes Virginia M. Bouvier explains why voters might have rejected the deal and what happens next.

October 1, 2016
Virginia M. Bouvier
September 9, 2016
Virginia M. Bouvier
June 10, 2016
Virginia M. Bouvier and Lisa Haugaard


November 3, 2016
The promises and visions articulated in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and subsequent UN resolutions and position papers that recognize the connection between gender equity and women’s participation in all aspects of peace processes and peacebuilding on the one hand, and international peace and security on the other, have not been fulfilled. Nonetheless, these resolutions have opened the way for advocacy that has had some successes in specific contexts. Colombia offers one such case. 
September 23, 2016
Las desapariciones forzadas son un legado de medio siglo de conflicto armado interno en Colombia.  Afectan a sectores pobres en el campo y en los centros urbanos, trabajadores, campesinos y campesinas, periodistas, defensores y defensoras de los derechos humanos, políticos de la oposición y lideres y lideresas afro-colombianos e indígenas.  Además, miembros de las fuerzas públicas y de la guerrilla han desaparecido en el contexto del conflicto armado colombiano.  Este informe analiza un acuerdo sobre los desaparecidos acordado en octubre 2015 entre el gobierno colombiano y las FARC-EP.  Si se cumple bien, el acuerdo ofrece la oportunidad de aliviar el sufrimiento y de ofrecer respuestas a los familiares de los desaparecidos y a toda la sociedad colombiana. English version also available.  
July 25, 2016
Forced disappearances are a legacy of Colombia’s half-century of internal armed conflict. They have affected the rural and urban poor, labor and peasant organizers, journalists, human rights defenders, politicians, and Afro-Colombian and indigenous leaders. Likewise, in the context of Colombia’s war, members of the military and guerrillas have also gone missing. This brief examines an agreement on the missing reached in October 2015 between the Colombian government and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces. If well implemented, the agreement offers the chance to alleviate suffering and provide answers to families of the missing and to Colombian society at large. Spanish version also available. 
USIP is supporting a research project being undertaken by Winifred Tate, an anthropologist and former USIP Peace Scholar, to document and analyze the role of women in local community-based conflict resolution efforts in the Putumayo department of Colombia.

External Publications

  • Colombia: Construcción de la paz en tiempos de guerra (Bogotá: Editorial Universidad del Rosario, 2014).
  • Colombia: Building Peace in a Time of War (U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 2009).
  • “Sidelining the Spoilers,” (with George Lopez), Nov. 26, 2014,
  • “Innovations in the Colombian Peace Process,” in Mediation Perspectives 2013-2014 (Dec. 2014), Center for Security Studies/International and Security Network ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), Zurich Germany.
  • “Could Colombia’s Election Kill Its Peace Process?”, June 13, 2014.
  • “¿Se hace el camino al andar? Reflexiones sobre los mitos, retos, y oportunidades para la sociedad civil en la transformación del conflicto colombiano,” Escenarios Posconflicto en Colombia: Agenda, Oportunidades y Hoja de Ruta. Barcelona: International Catalán Institute of Peace, 2014.
  • “Ideas para la Paz,” La Bagatela: Revista de derechos humanos, Bogota, Colombia, 2013.
  • “Turning the Tables,”, November 27, 2013.
  • “Global Conflict Prevention Mechanisms and their Relevance for Latin America and the Caribbean", Pensamiento Propio [Journal of Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales/CRIES], Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2013.
  • “El proceso de Caguán y la comunidad internacional,” in Proceso de paz en Colombia, ed. Sandra Borda and Fernando Cepeda, Ecco Press/HarperCollins, 2012.
  • Civil Society Dialogues for Peace in Colombia,” in David Smock and Daniel Serwer, eds., Facilitated Dialogue: USIP’s Work in Conflict Zones (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, 2012).
  • "Crossing the Lines: Women's Social Mobilization in Latin America," in Governing Women: Women's Political Effectiveness in Contexts of Democratization and Governance Reform, edited by Anne Marie Goetz (Routledge, 2008)
  • Whose America? The War of 1898 and the Battles to Define the Nation (Praeger Press, 2002).
  • The Globalization of U.S.-Latin American Relations: Democracy, Intervention, and Human Rights (Praeger Press, 2002).
  • Women and the Conquest of California (University of Arizona Press, 2001, 2004)