Post-conflict perspectives in Colombia

Bogota, Colombia (openDemocracy) – The discussion on the post-conflict stage in Colombia is particularly relevant today, as the peace process negotiating delegations are showing a renewed optimism, as does the government and the international community, despite persistent skepticism and great uncertainty on the part of Colombian society.

In these defining moments, helping to promote a greater awareness among the informed opinion in Latin America, and to broaden the debate at the global level, is the contribution DemocraciaAbierta/openDemocracy and the Foundation Ideas for Peace can make to a process in its decisive hours.

Several elements in the regional scene can result in an acceleration of the General Agreement for the termination of the conflict and the construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace in Colombia: from the rapprochement between Cuba and the US, or the role of Maduro’s Venezuela, greatly weakened after the last elections, to political developments in Colombia itself.

The impact that an agreement such as this would have on the region can be analyzed as the geopolitical element contributing to the stabilization and sustainability of the agreement in the post-conflict scenario. The opposite situation, an unfavorable regional background, is also a possibility. It is essential to look at the medium and long term.

Through this series, DemocraciaAbierta and the Fundación Ideas para la Pazwant to explore in the coming months the scenarios that can guarantee the fundamental premise of the current process: a stable and lasting peace. In this regard, it is important to consider the soundness of its foundations in order to ensure that “never again” is actually so.

We build on the expertise of analysts and writers that openDemocracy has accumulated over the years – especially from May, 2012, through the Conflict in context: Colombia series. The Fundación Ideas para la Paz, on its part, has acquired significant knowledge through its 15-year experience in intensive work on various aspects of the process. It is today an outstanding player generating knowledge, proposing initiatives, developing practices and accompanying processes, thus contributing to building a stable and lasting peace in Colombia.

The series will address several questions, such as the role of the international actors in the post-conflict stage, both in their technical and political capacity.

FARC Area of Operations

FARC Area of Operations

The management of the peace dividend on the basis of a successful execution strategy should take into consideration the costs of peace. It is important, in this sense, to control the post-conflict expectations and to ensure the involvement, sustained over time, of the warring factions, the general public, and the international community, thus preventing the (inevitable) disappointments from turning into insurmountable obstacles.

Two other important issues are, on the one hand, the military question – that is, the role the military would play, or not, in the post-conflict and the reforms that the armed forces should, or should not, undergo – and, on the other hand, the humanitarian question.

With some 3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and over 7 million victims, the sheer size of the humanitarian question is staggering. The post-conflict political economy must obviously take into account what to do with these people.

To underpin the central question of the durability and stability of the agreement, the endorsement of a true social pact is required. The conditions under which such an endorsement takes place are as important as the nature and final narrative of the agreement to be endorsed. In this sense, the 1989 Good Friday agreements in Northern Ireland are certainly inspiring. Even today, after 17 years into post-conflict, Good Friday is the preferred reference in case of tension or disagreement.

To define the role of civil society in the post-conflict management of truth, reconciliation, reparation and compensation issues, should ensure a solid and high quality transitional justice.

The coming months will be crucial. We hope that this series will contribute to a better understanding of the scenarios that are being shaped in these momentous times, and of the huge task that all the national and international stakeholders, who are deeply committed to building this stable and durable peace, must undertake.

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This report prepared by MARÍA VICTORIA LLORENTE and FRANCESC BADIA I DALMASES for openDemocracy.