The signing of the 2016 peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP opened new windows of opportunity to transform security paradigms that better respond to the needs and priorities of citizens. However, implementing the Agreement and ensuring that its provisions are equitably implemented in rural areas of the territory remains an elusive challenge.

Communities continue to live amid territorial disputes between different armed groups, including dissidents from the FARC, the National Liberation Army (ELN), the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC), as well as other transnational criminal organizations. As a result, between 2016 and March 2022, a total of 1,327 social leaders and 304 former combatants in the process of reintegration were murdered in Colombia.

Decades of marginalization and conflict in rural Colombia have created a culture of mistrust between citizens and state institutions. The current increase in violence has widened the credibility and legitimacy gap between the state and the citizenry. With a legacy of armed conflict in Colombia, establishing lasting relationships between local communities and institutional providers of justice and security is a fundamental and urgent challenge.

USIP’S Work

The Citizen Security Dialogues (CSD) project in Colombia adapts the Justice and Security Dialogues (JSD) approach and methodology developed by USIP over 20 years ago. CSD is implemented in municipalities affected by the armed conflict, with the participation of multiple community representatives and security and justice providers. Through the dialogues, USIP seeks to transform and democratize the provision of security and justice in rural post-FARC territories, as well as improve the security and protection of communities and social leaders.

With additional knowledge and regular public feedback cycles to better understand community concerns, particularly rural communities, security and justice providers should be able to adapt their services and strategies to build trust and a more responsive, responsible and service-oriented citizen security model.

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Geographic Reach

Citizen Security Dialogues is active in 10 municipalities across six departments that have experienced the 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.

Components of the Project

Developing community characterization studies: Through preliminary characterization studies conducted by local partners in Colombia, USIP 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 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, USIP and local partners will strengthen participants’ capacities through a series of workshops related to rule of law 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, responding to needs prioritized by community leaders.

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 municipalities.

Convening policy reviews and development: Informed by the dialogues and the inputs generated in phase one, USIP will convene public roundtables at the local and national level to discuss 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 training sessions for community leaders and local justice and security providers
  • 20 local adaptations in security and justice
  • 30 multi-stakeholder dialogues
  • 2 roundtables to review public policies on security

Capacity building workshop on dialogue in Riosucio (Chocó). Photo by Santiago Mesa, Páramo Films.

Over 20 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, particularly in the context of war-to-peace transitions.


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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