The armed internal conflict in Colombia brought more than 50 years of brutal strife in which at least 260,000
people died, more than 80,000 went missing and seven million were internally displaced. It has left deep scars. The implementation of the 2016 peace agreement and social reconciliation are still enormous tasks for this country, which remains divided on the peace accords. Former FARC combatants need to be reintegrated into civilian life, egregious human rights violations by the parties to the conflict have to be prosecuted, victims must be compensated. The search for missing people continues. Legal alternatives to drug cultivation are necessary, as is comprehensive land reform. All of this involves profound social change, which entails overcoming resistance and surviving setbacks. In particular, the continuing high level of violence threatens the peace. Even where FARC has withdrawn, numerous other criminal organisations, often local, are still active in Colombia. The road to reconciliation remains long and difficult.
And yet, the peace agreement in Colombia, in all its complexity, is an unprecedented framework for peace that could serve as a model for resolving other conflicts around the world, if it works. Not least because of this, the entire international community, represented by the United Nations, backs the agreement. Germany, too, is supporting the process financially and in other ways through stabilisation projects, development cooperation, political advisory services and the promotion of civic engagement.
Reconciliation needs patience
In order to keep the peace and investigate the conflict, a complex transitional justice mechanism was created by the peace agreement. This has led to the establishment of new institutions: a court called the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, a Truth Commission and a Unit for the Search of Disappeared Persons. These are intended to contribute to truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition. The peace accords put the interests of the victims at the heart of investigative work.
An institute for peace
Even if many rifts still divide Colombian society: Germany is engaged long-term in Colombia with many
partners to help the country consolidate and durably safeguard the still new and not always stable peace. The German-Colombian Peace Institute CAPAZ in Bogotá, which was founded in 2016, plays an outstanding role. The Institute is funded by the Federal Foreign Office through the German Academic Exchange Service, and provides scientific support and political advice to back the peace process. Its focus is on social reconciliation, strengthening the rule of law, conflict prevention and peacebuilding. To this end the Institute connects stakeholders from the scientific community, civil society and governmental agencies with each other. It is also active in the field of civic education, partly in cooperation with the Federal Agency for Civic Education.