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.
La firma del Acuerdo de Paz del 2016 entre el gobierno colombiano y las FARC-EP abrió nuevas ventanas de oportunidad para transformar paradigmas de seguridad que respondan mejor a las necesidades y prioridades de la ciudadanía. Sin embargo, la implementación equitativa del Acuerdo en zonas rurales del territorio sigue siendo un desafío.
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.
Hopes for lasting peace in Colombia are soaring. Last month, Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez prevailed in Colombia’s runoff presidential election and will lead the country’s first-ever progressive government, as president and vice president, respectively. Their historic victory culminates an electoral cycle marked by a resounding rejection of Colombia’s establishment elites. Petro’s proposals for what he has coined “Total Peace” offer an ambitious approach to negotiating with armed groups, implementing prior peace accords, and pursuing national unity amid debilitating socio-political polarization. The country stands before an undeniable opportunity to lay the foundation to end its six-decade conflict, even if subsequent governments will have to sustain these efforts to truly reap the long-term benefits.
Since Spring 2021 The U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) is 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. The initiative will focus on Latin America as a pilot region, aiming to offer practical recommendations to relevant stakeholders.
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.