The Mediation in Colombia project is designed to generate discussion about Colombia’s past efforts to resolve its longstanding internal armed conflict.

Colombia Network of Women Mediators
Colombia Network of Women Mediators

The goals of the project are to:

  • Draw lessons from Colombia’s past negotiating experiences to assist in future peace talks
  • Contribute to the systematization of materials from previous peace initiatives in Colombia
  • Contribute to a peaceful settlement with Colombia’s remaining guerrilla groups, especially the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN)
  • Explore ways that international mediation experiences that might be relevant for Colombia.

Background

In the last 25 years, several governments in Colombia have engaged in peace talks that resulted in intermittent or partial successes, including the disarmament of at least five guerrilla groups or factions thereof. These experiences, as well as peace initiatives with each of the two major guerrilla groups— the FARC and the ELN -- provide a rich legacy of lessons yet to be mined.  By analyzing the shortcomings and successes of past peace initiatives as well as the role of civil society actors and the international community in mediation, USIP hopes to generate new thinking on how to reach agreements on the key issues that have proved to be stumbling blocks to peace in the past. 
Activities

This project involves identifying, interviewing, convening, and commissioning papers from current and former mediators, facilitators, and civil society guarantors of the peace processes in Colombia and expert observers who study the Colombian conflict. The activities are designed to encourage participants to reflect on past peace initiatives, and to develop resources that might be useful when future opportunities for peace talks emerge. 
USIP activities this year have included:

  • Co-sponsorship of a 2-day conference hosted by the Center for Research and Popular Education (CINEP) on November 4-5, 2010 in Bogotá, Colombia
    Read the program agenda | Read the conference communiqué (in Spanish)
  • Sponsorship of an academic panel on “Lessons from Past Peace Processes in Colombia,” at the Latin American Studies Association meetings (Rio de Janeiro, June 2009). Panelists included Mauricio García-Durán, Alvaro Villarraga, Marc Chernick, León Valencia and Virginia M. Bouvier (chair and organizer).
  • Roundtable Discussion on “Mediation in Colombia” at the Latin American Studies Association meetings in Toronto, Canada (October 2010) with Marc Chernick, Alberto Valencia, Elvira Sanchez-Blake, and Virginia M. Bouvier (chair and organizer). 
  • Sponsorship of a panel discussion on “Challenges to International Mediation” at the International Studies Association meetings in Montreal, Canada (March 16, 2011). Discussants included USIP Senior Program Officer Virginia M. Bouvier, USIP Senior Fellow Cecile Aptel, and Stine Lehmann-Larsen from the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.

USIP has been spearheading a collaborative research project with the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, the Colombian Jesuit Research Institute (CINEP), and the Latin American Studies Center at Georgetown University and others to analyze past peace processes and their impact on prospects for a future political solution to the conflict in Colombia. On October 15, 2012, the consortium released a new document, “Lessons for Colombia’s Peace Talks in Oslo and Havana,” published in Spanish as “Lecciones para los diálogos en Oslo y La Habana.”

Learn More

Related Publications

Q&A: Colombia’s President Santos in Washington

Q&A: Colombia’s President Santos in Washington

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

By: Fred Strasser

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos meets President Barack Obama on Feb. 4 in Washington to commemorate the 15th anniversary of “Plan Colombia,” a U.S.-led effort that has provided about $10 billion to help the South American country’s security forces fight leftist guerrillas and drug traffickers. Virginia Bouvier, a senior advisor for peace processes at the U.S. Institute of Peace, who has led the Institute’s work on Colombia for the past decade, talks about Santos’s visit and the fast-mo...

Type: Analysis

Mediation, Negotiation & DialoguePeace Processes

Q&A: Colombia, Guerrillas Reach Accord on Rights for Victims of War

Q&A: Colombia, Guerrillas Reach Accord on Rights for Victims of War

Thursday, December 17, 2015

By: Fred Strasser

Making a peace deal that accommodates the needs of the millions of civilians hurt by Colombia’s 50-year-old conflict has challenged negotiators since talks between the government and the nation’s largest guerrilla group began three years ago. This week, negotiators announced an agreement on victims, completing the fourth item on a six-point agenda that’s aimed at ending hostilities. USIP’s Virginia Bouvier, who was in Havana for the declaration on victims, said the latest accord is another hi...

Type: Analysis

Peace ProcessesHuman RightsMediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

View All

Latest Publications

Donald Jensen on the War in Ukraine’s Second Anniversary

Donald Jensen on the War in Ukraine’s Second Anniversary

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

By: Donald N. Jensen, Ph.D.

Two years on, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has turned into a grinding and costly territorial battle. And with so many major strategic questions left unanswered, “predicting [the conflict] going one way or the other is extremely difficult,” says USIP’s Donald Jensen. “A lot depends on what happens outside the battlefield.”

Type: Podcast

Myanmar’s Fateful Conscription Law

Myanmar’s Fateful Conscription Law

Monday, February 26, 2024

By: Ye Myo Hein

Earlier this month, Myanmar’s ruling junta enacted a compulsory conscription law that had been dormant since 2010. General Guan Maw, a leader of the Kachin Independence Organization, greeted the junta's decision by comparing it to the 2021 military coup: "If February 1, 2021, was the beginning of the end, the law enforced on February 10, 2024, can be said to mark the end of the end.” As popular reactions to the new conscription plan roll out across the country, General Guan Maw’s pronouncement becomes increasingly prescient.

Type: Analysis

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

A Framework for Meaningful Economic Engagement with North Korea

A Framework for Meaningful Economic Engagement with North Korea

Monday, February 26, 2024

By: Brad Babson

North Korea has faced enormous challenges in providing health and food security for its population since its economic collapse and famine of the 1990s. A principal reason was prioritizing state security in the military-first policy under Kim Jong Il and later advancing nuclear and missile programs under Kim Jong Un. Self-reliance ideology was another important factor. In addition, the unresolved Korean War and underlying North Korean perceptions of U.S. and international hostility cast a cold shadow over diplomatic and economic cooperation.

Type: Analysis

Global Policy

For Peace in Sahel, African and U.S. Experts Urge Focused Partnership

For Peace in Sahel, African and U.S. Experts Urge Focused Partnership

Thursday, February 22, 2024

By: Katia Cavigelli;  James Rupert

The past month has sharpened a decade-old question for U.S. and international policymakers: How best, in 2024, to help stabilize what is now the world’s largest single zone of military rule and violent conflicts — Africa’s Sahel region? After three military-ruled Sahel states withdrew from the West African regional community in January, those juntas last week proclaimed an alliance aimed at resisting international pressures, including those for their return to elected civilian rule. Former U.S. and African officials yesterday urged what they called vital changes in U.S. and allied policies to prevent a dangerous spread of the Sahel’s crises.

Type: Analysis

Fragility & Resilience

The Limitations of India and Russia’s Transactional Relationship

The Limitations of India and Russia’s Transactional Relationship

Thursday, February 22, 2024

By: Dr. Jagannath Panda

Since Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, it might seem as though ties between India and Russia have strengthened. While much of the West isolated Russia, India-Russia energy trade spiked, and India made efforts to accommodate Russia on the world stage. The two countries have also had visible public exchanges, such as a mid-January phone call between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s trip to Moscow at the end of 2023.

Type: Analysis

Global Policy

View All Publications