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.
Learn more in USIP’s fact sheets on our work in Colombia, available in English and Spanish.
Colombian Civic Leader Offers a Grassroots Strategy for Peace
Nine months into new efforts by Colombia’s administration to achieve “total peace” with remaining armed groups following decades of civil war, that process should make room for the nation’s thousands of grassroots and community organizations to strengthen peace locally when the fighting stops, says a prominent civic leader from one of the country’s most violent regions. Stabilizing Colombia, where migration toward the United States and other countries soared last year, will require steady support from U.S. and international partners, said Maria Eugenia Mosquera Riascos, who helps lead a Colombian network of 140 civic and community organizations working to end violence.
Armed Force Isn’t Saving Colombia’s Forests, But a New Effort Might
In six years since Colombia signed a peace agreement with its largest rebel movement, farmers, miners, loggers and armed groups have surged into the nation’s forests, felling trees and accelerating deforestation and its ills: a destabilized global climate and destruction of biodiversity and local communities’ habitats. As Colombia struggles to establish effective governance, the state is trying to shift away from previous reliance on military force to curb deforestation, a strategy that bred mistrust and violent conflict with local communities. Now a Colombian university is developing more effective forest-protection techniques to build sustainable solutions with those communities — an approach that can be shared globally.
Colombia’s Renewed Peace Talks with ELN Rebels Provide Historic Opportunity
As part of its ambitious “Total Peace” agenda, the new Colombian government recently restarted peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), marking the first new negotiations since January 2019. And while this cycle of talks adopted the same agenda and process framework as the previous efforts, current President Gustavo Petro appointed a diverse and broad negotiations team in the hopes of generating early momentum and support. Petro intends to advance on partial accords as quickly as possible — building up to a comprehensive agreement before his brief four-year term in office is complete.
Youth Advisory Council
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.
Religious and Psychosocial Support for Displaced Trauma Survivors
Since spring 2021, USIP has been identifying best practices in psychosocial support to better facilitate collaboration and cooperation between religious actors and mental health professionals who provide services to conflict-affected communities, including trauma-affected displaced persons. This thematic area of work focused initially on Latin America as a pilot region and has since expanded to the Asia and European contexts — offering practical and evidence-based recommendations to relevant stakeholders.
Generation Change Fellows Program
Generation Change works with young leaders across the globe to foster collaboration, build resilience and strengthen capacity as they transform local communities.