A 2016 peace agreement between Colombia’s government and the country’s biggest rebel group is being fulfilled in stages. As the guerrillas transition to civilian life, Colombia faces a massive task of reconciliation to recover from a half-century conflict that killed more than 220,000 people and uprooted more than 6 million. The U.S. Institute of Peace helped prepare the ground for a political solution with more than a decade of work in Colombia, and now is supporting research, policy discussions and mediation between, for example, ex-combatants and victims, to prevent a resurgence of violence.
The Colombian government, seeking to reform its National Police in a time of security challenges and mass protests, has focused on big-city units that sit in the national spotlight. While the reform efforts are generally praiseworthy, the emphasis on urban areas creates the risk of losing sight of the country’s rural regions — places where guerrillas and other armed actors hold sway, and the fate of peace efforts will ultimately be determined. The resolve and capacity of rural police and courts to meet the needs of citizens in these zones will be critical to achieving meaningful and lasting peace.
The U.S. government has opened opportunities to strengthen the implementation of the fragile 2016 peace accord and stem rising conflict in Colombia by ending its designation of the former Colombian guerrilla movement, FARC, as a terrorist group.
As Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels to Colombia, USIP’s Keith Mines notes there is still work to be done in implementing and expanding the 2016 peace agreement with the FARC insurgency, saying that “consolidating the peace in a place like Colombia was almost as hard as fighting the war itself.”
Built upon the belief that youth bring significant and unique insight to peacebuilding, the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) provides a mechanism through which USIP experts can benefit from youth perspectives and expertise. The YAC enables USIP staff to engage youth as partners, experts, and practioners while elevating youth voices and experience to the international level. The YAC contributes to USIP’s vision for an inclusive approach to peacebuilding. The Youth Advisory Council meets regularly to bring together youth thought leaders and peacebuilding experts committed to the Institute’s mission and activities.
Since 2020, USIP’s programs on religion and inclusive societies and nonviolent action have been conducting research to better understand the role of religion in nonviolent action campaigns. Many of the most prominent activists and nonviolent movements in history have drawn on religion as they worked to build peace and advance justice. Historical figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi often come to mind. But religious leaders, beliefs, symbols and practices have featured just as prominently in more recent nonviolent campaigns, including the Arab Uprisings, the Spring Revolution in Myanmar and Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement.
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