In 2016, a historic peace accord ended the 50-year armed conflict between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). But implementing the accord and ensuring that its provisions equitably reach all corners of the country remains difficult. Former FARC dissident groups have clashed with the National Liberation Army (ELN), a smaller armed guerrilla group, as well as other transnational criminal organizations for control of territories left “orphaned” after the demobilization process. The COVID-19 public health crisis has exacerbated levels of poverty and insecurity throughout the country, with 2020 being the most violent year since the signing of the accords.

Decades of marginalization and conflict in Colombia’s remote rural regions have created a culture of mistrust between communities and government institutions. Meanwhile, the ongoing surge in violence is further broadening the gap in credibility and legitimacy between the government and its citizens. In a challenging security landscape like Colombia’s, building and earning long-lasting trust between local communities and justice and security providers will continue to prove difficult.

USIP’S Work

The Citizen Security Dialogues Activity (CSDA) applies USIP’s longstanding Justice and Security Dialogue (JSD) approach and methodology to the Colombian context. The JSD is founded on multi-stakeholder and community-based dialogues that seek to transform relationships and strengthen the legitimacy of security and justice providers, particularly rural police.

With additional knowledge and regular public feedback loops to better understand community concerns — particularly those of rural communities — security and justice providers should be able to adapt their services and strategies accordingly. USIP anticipates that this approach can generate the democratic conditions necessary for a sustained multi-stakeholder dialogue process that will contribute meaningfully to earning trust, transforming local relationships and shifting paradigms towards a more responsive, accountable and service-oriented security model. This ultimately will enhance public safety as well as expand protection for social leaders whose lives have been increasingly under threat as they seek to defend community interests in the face of shifting local actors.

Citizen Security Dialogues will take place in 10 municipalities across six departments that have experienced FARC’s long-standing influence and presence. The implementation phase is composed of six components reflecting the commitment to pursue technical and community-oriented solutions to citizen security in these regions: Antioquia, Choco, Caquetá, Cauca, Nariño and Norte de Santander.

Developing community characterization studies

Through preliminary characterization studies conducted by local partners in Colombia, the Institute will deepen the security and justice providers’ understanding of community dynamics, culture and history throughout the conflict.

Conducting public perception polls

These monthly polls intend to improve the security and justice providers’ awareness of evolving community perceptions, fears, priorities and performance assessments — all which will be conveyed anonymously and unilaterally to security providers and local authorities.

Organizing formal capacity-building activities

To prepare security and justice providers and community leaders for multi-stakeholder dialogues, the Institute and local partners will strengthen these groups’ capacities through a series of workshops related to rule of law, peacebuilding and dialogue.

Providing technical assistance in local security adaptations

This activity supports demonstrable adaptions of security and justice provision strategies toward rural communities based on public concerns and priorities.

Facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue processes

The Citizen Security Dialogues will transform relationships between justice and security providers and rural communities through a community-based dialogue approach in five of the 10 selected municipalities.

Convening policy reviews and development

Informed by the dialogue experiences, USIP will create forums for discussing policy implications and possible paradigm shifts in the security and safety model.

By the Numbers

  • 10 Community characterization studies
  • 6,500 Public perception surveys
  • 20 Trainings of community leaders and local justice and security providers
  • 20 Strategy-adaptation reflections
  • 30 Multi-stakeholder dialogues
  • 2 National policy review roundtables

Colombian women mediators

Over 15 years ago, USIP developed the Justice and Security Dialogues (JSDs) methodology. JSDs are iterative and inclusive multi-stakeholder processes aimed at transforming relationships between security and justice providers and their public beneficiaries. USIP’s JSDs have been adapted for post conflict contexts like Nepal, Myanmar, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Niger, Tanzania, Iraq, and Libya.


This project is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this project fact sheet are the sole responsibility of the United States Institute of Peace and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

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