A historic peace accord ended the 50-year armed conflict between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016. Following the terms of the agreement, in 2017, more than 10,000 FARC combatants surrendered over 8,000 weapons and consolidated into 26 encampments, transitioning to civilian life. Implementing the accord — which means cementing the agreement into national legislation and ensuring its provisions reach all corners of the country equitably — remains difficult.

Preventing further violence hinges on effective collective reintegration and reincorporating former combatants into society, compensating victims and returning their lands, and addressing the socioeconomic disparities and political exclusion at the root of the conflict. The government has also continued to pursue peace negotiations with a smaller insurgency, the National Liberation Army (ELN).

USIP’S Work

Since 2008, the U.S. Institute of Peace has helped prepare Colombia for a political solution. Because violence in the country is rooted in exclusion, the Institute prioritizes inclusive, grassroots initiatives — working at the community level to address the core of Colombians’ disputes and each department’s distinct conflict dynamics. USIP brings these successes to the national level, scaling solutions to help enable lasting peace. Recent work includes:

Promoting Inclusive Peace Processes

The Institute strives to ensure that every sector realizes its ownership in peacebuilding processes and can communicate those stakes to leaders. When the Colombian government considers the rights of women, youth, the LGBTQ community, Afro-Colombian and indigenous populations, it creates a more sustainable foundation for peace.

USIP has provided formal and informal advice to negotiators, special envoys, and the international community throughout negotiations on how peace processes and the implementation of agreements can be strengthened to support these vulnerable populations.

Convening Key Leaders

Since 2012, the Colombia Peace Forum has ensured that policymakers and opinion leaders in both Colombia and the U.S. have a sound understanding of Colombia’s internal armed conflict and its peace processes. The forum creates an exchange among participants — including academics, Colombian specialists, government officials — on an array of topics from victims’ rights to the role of women in reconciliation. It fosters collaborative, creative analyses that address the challenges of the accord’s implementation, including how parties fulfill their commitments, especially to those most affected by the conflict: women, victims, ethnic communities, and ex-combatants.

Strengthening Civil Society Organizations

The Institute has supported Colombia’s robust civil society organizations since 2011, most recently helping ensure they can monitor and implement the accord. The Institute has provided grants and technical support to several civil society organizations — including human rights organizations, ecumenical groups, women’s and youth organizations, and Afro-Colombian and ethnic communities.

For example, the Institute has supported the Citizens’ Commissions for Reconciliation in 10 of the country’s 32 departments; these commissions create models for citizen involvement in peace and reconciliation efforts and foster constructive and community-based dialogue among local authorities, companies, and communities. Through grants and micro-contracts, USIP helps these organizations develop and monitor their peacebuilding initiatives.

Supporting Inclusive Security Reforms

In collaboration with local partners, USIP has contributed to important research and policy recommendations focused on strengthening and democratizing security and justice in rural areas previously administered by the FARC. The Institute has presented its findings to the Colombian government and police and facilitated dialogue between those entities and leading civil society organizations to promote deeper appreciation of public considerations into policy and strategy development processes.

Engaging Youth. The Institute builds on prominent youth engagement in the Colombian peace process through its Generation Change Fellows Program (GCFP). Also active in Africa and the Middle East, GCFP cultivates youth leaders’ capacity to build bridges across differences and contribute to positive social change. Through a competitive application process and rigorous training, the program creates cohorts of young peacebuilders who implement the program’s peacebuilding strategies, then pass on their knowledge to others who can teach the next group of youth — creating an international community of young leaders.

Measuring the Progress of Peace

In 2014, USIP launched the Initiative to Measure Peace and Conflict Outcomes (IMPACT) to develop simple, but rigorous, data-collection tools to monitor peacebuilding programs and assess progress toward meaningful objectives, like reducing violent incidents, resolving disputes, and increasing trust in local government.

In Colombia, the IMPACT team works with five local peacebuilding organizations to support innovative programming and identifies best practices to measure success. Unlike other monitoring techniques, IMPACT is simple, cost-effective, scalable, and applicable for a wide range of organizations.

Related Publications

Steve Hege on Colombia’s Election

Steve Hege on Colombia’s Election

Thursday, June 21, 2018

By: Steve Hege

Following a peaceful run-off election in Colombia, Steve Hege shares his analysis on the victory of right-wing candidate Ivan Duque over leftist Gustavo Petro. At the top of Duque’s agenda, according to Hege, will be amending the peace accord with the FARC, resuming more aggressive drug eradication programs, increasing security, and strengthening the U.S.-Colombia relationship.   

Episode 54 - Lili Cole and Diego Benitez

Episode 54 - Lili Cole and Diego Benitez

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

By:

Our guests on today's episode are Diego Benitez, a Program Officer at USIP's Office of Learning, Evaluation and Research, and Lili Cole, an expert on reconciliation process and practice. We will be discussing a USIP project called IMPACT Colombia, which combines support for reconciliation projects in Colombia with USIP's own brand of monitoring and evaluation.

Reconciliation

Will Colombia's 2018 Elections Imperil Peace?

Will Colombia's 2018 Elections Imperil Peace?

Friday, April 13, 2018

By: Steve Hege

The April 9 arrest and extradition request of former senior Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) commander and peace negotiator Jesús Santrich highlights the complex challenges Colombia faces in the implementation of the historic November 2016 peace agreement with the FARC. Over a year and a half since the signing of the agreement, Colombia finds itself in one of the most critical moments in its efforts to definitively put to rest over five decades of armed conflict that has left more than 8.5 million victims in its wake. Frustrations surrounding the mixed results in the implementation of the peace agreement are exacerbated by the natural uncertainty over the upcoming May 27 presidential elections and its policy impact.

Electoral Violence; Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Peace Processes

Steve Hege on Colombia’s Progress Towards Peace

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

By: Steve Hege

Leaders from the Western Hemisphere absent Venezuela’s President Maduro will gather for the 8th Summit of the America’s in Peru later this week. Vice President Pence following the summit will travel on to Colombia. Steve Hege explains a range of issues involving Colombia from U.S. bilateral relations, upcoming elections, peace plan implementation and reforms, and the strains on public infrastructure and services as a result of an exodus of Venezuelan refugees.

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