History of the conflict in Colombia
Since 1965, the Colombian Government has been engaged in armed struggles with both the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and the National Liberation Army (ELN). Right-wing paramilitaries and a number of extremely violent criminal gangs complete a web of illegal armed groups, and drug trafficking has become a major financial fuel for violence.
Over the past decades, the Government’s policy shifted back and forth between negotiations and a hard-line approach with left-wing guerrillas. After eight years of all-out war under President Uribe, President Santos invested in negotiating a peace settlement with the FARC.
Negotiations began in Havana in 2012. Having learnt from previous rounds of talks, as well as peace processes elsewhere, the two sides introduced a range of innovations. These included addressing the crucial issues of land reform and drugs trafficking, placing the victims at the centre of the talks and preparing for the post-agreement phase long before the final signing. A final agreement was signed in 2016 - by the summer of 2017 the FARC had decommissioned their weapons and in September of that year officially became a political party.
Formal talks with the ELN also began in 2017, offering hope of a new peace deal, but were suspended at the start of 2018.
Our work in Colombia
Since 2012, we’ve been supporting the peace process in Colombia – sharing lessons from other peace negotiations with the government, insurgencies and civil society. We also document and share innovations from the Colombian peace process to help inform current and future processes around the world.
Both the government and FARC appreciate that the negotiations are only the first step in the process, and that there needs to be ongoing participation from everyone in Colombia to transform society.
Our work challenges convention, by enabling those who are often excluded from official peace processes to participate in the country’s transition to peace. We are supporting a network of women from ten different indigenous communities to play an active role in the peace process, as well as supporting over 400 Colombian women living abroad to share their stories and testimonies with Colombia’s official Truth Commission.