The government’s peace accord with the former FARC rebels presents a historic opportunity to work towards the construction of a democratic Colombia that addresses the wrongs of the past and charts a new course toward equality, justice, and prosperity. At the heart of this process are human rights defenders and civil society organizations, who play a vital role in addressing the underlying economic and social root causes of violence and holding stakeholders accountable to the commitments of the accords.
Reparations for victims and reintegration of combatants are key provisions of Colombian law and of the year-old peace agreement that ended a half century of war between the government and the country’s largest rebel group. The effect of the conflict and how the government is fulfilling its commitments was the focus of a discussion on October 31st at the U.S. Institute of Peace, co-hosted with the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Latin American Program.
New research highlights how communities use cohesion and social structures to non-violently influence armed groups—a capacity that governments and institutions often fail to recognize. On October 2, USIP convened a discussion on such community self-protection, and how policymaking might better support it in conflict zones such as in Syria or Afghanistan.
On April 25, USIP and HALO Trust, one of the world’s largest demining organizations, gathered experts for a discussion on the implications and results of demining.
The U.S. Institute of Peace discussed recent research, practice and policy on gender and mediation on Friday, March 31.
USIP and Colombia’s University of Cartagena webcast a live forum March 24 with Colombian youth leaders and students working toward post-war reconciliation. A panel of peacebuilders discussed with them the growing roles for youth leaders in healing violent conflicts in Colombia and globally.
While Colombia’s government and the guerrilla group known as the FARC work on the final details of a comprehensive peace deal, one part of the proposed accord is already in effect: the commitment by both sides to recover and return the remains of tens of thousands of “disappeared” people—those presumed to have been secretly killed in the conflict. USIP and the Latin America Working Group Education Fund held an event on April 22 for an early assessment of how implementation of the agreements on disappearances is proceeding.
Women have played groundbreaking roles in Colombia’s peace process between the government and the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC. With a peace agreement in sight and on the occasion of International Women’s Day, the U.S. Institute of Peace held an event on March 8 that briefed on the status of women in peace processes, with a focus on the Colombia case. The discussion was co-sponsored by USIP’s Colombia Peace Forum and the Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum.
Despite widespread optimism that a peace agreement will soon be reached in Havana, the war in Colombia continues, marked by a rise in attacks on human rights defenders. The U.S. Institute of Peace and its co-sponsors held an event to hear four winners of last year’s National Prize for the Defense of Human Rights in Colombia discuss the challenges they and their fellow advocates face in their regions, and the role of human rights defenders in building sustainable peace in Colombia.
On February 3, President Santos discussed Colombia's progress in security and governance over the last 15 years. He also reviewed the state of the negotiations with the FARC, the prospects for a country at peace, and the challenges that lie ahead.