Over five decades of armed conflict have left deep traces in Colombian society. The logic of violence has permeated public and private life. At the same time, there has been a multitude of peace initiatives within civil society that work to break with this logic and achieve the transformations Colombia needs for peace.
The Colombian government and the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) entered peace negotiations in 2012. While held without full ceasefire, the talks have significantly advanced in 2015 and a final peace agreement is announced for March 2016. The possibility of official negotiations between the government and the second-largest guerrilla group ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - National Liberation Army) are currently being explored. Despite this hopeful outlook, the country is confronted with a number of challenges that need to be addressed in order to ensure a sustainable peace. There are six million internally displaced persons and over 220.000 victims. Moreover, structural causes of the conflict persist: high levels of social and economic inequality, exclusion of large parts of the population, the dominance of local elites and the existence of paramilitary and criminal groups (BACRIM) in areas with low state presence. Colombians often refer to their country as a "country of regions" given its great social, political, economic and biological diversity. These differences are both a resource and a challenge, and peacebuilding needs to carefully take them into account in the peace process.
Focusing on the concept of paz territorial ("peace from and for the territories"), the regional (i.e. subnational) peacebuilding component of ProPaz seeks to support departmental and municipal administrations in integrating peacebuilding measures into their respective development plans and other governance procedures. Based on the idea that anchoring peace in all levels of society requires inclusive and participative processes, our team serves as adviser for the development of appropriate spaces and mechanisms of cooperation between different actors - public administration, civil society, the church and the private sector (multi-actor approach). Beyond this horizontal linkage, information exchange and consultation between the national and subnational level ensure that peace policies and processes take sufficient account of regional needs (multi-level approach).
By equipping key actors with a set of methodological tools on conflict-sensitive dialogue, facilitation and planning, we support the diverse actors in jointly planning and implementing peace-related measures in a peace-oriented way. This will play a particularly important role in the upcoming concertation process of the subnational development plans in early 2016, and their implementation in the years ahead.
We draw on our experience from accompanying a pilot project for regional peacebuilding, continuous consultation for GIZ-programme CERCAPAZ, the systematisation of the project SerMacarena, and from our long-term cooperation with local organisations. Our process consulting includes analysis and exploration processes and sensitisation and capacity development interventions.
Aims and outcomes
The programme component seeks to strengthen capacities for peacebuilding (relationships, attitudes, structures) on the national, regional and local level. This is to be reflected in the participatory development and implementation of subnational development plans and the implementation of its peace policies. In this process, state and non-state actors make use of tried and tested methods of conflict-sensitive communication, constructive dialogue and cooperation. Subnational experiences with the implementation of peace policies are to be fed back to the national level and inform national guidelines that will more realistically reflect regional circumstances and needs.
This ProPaz component addresses Colombian governments, both at national and local level. The governments of Meta and Norte de Santander, mayors and civil society organisations, the National Planning Department, the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace and the Ministry of Post-Conflict are important partners in the implementation of this endeavour and will benefit from institutional strengthening and advice on policy implementation.
The two programme regions Meta and Norte de Santander are characterised by a combination of a strong presence of armed actors and a low presence of the state. They have been heavily impacted by the armed conflict and armed confrontations persist to this day. Given the precarious security situation, an abundance of natural resources and the regions' strategic location, Meta and Norte de Santander serve as exemplary regions for the preparation of the post-agreement phase. The activities there are complemented by accompanying the national institutions responsible for peacebuilding in their shaping and adapting of guidelines for regional implementation.