Violent Peace – lessons from Central America for Colombia


At this year’s PBF, organized by FriEnt, Berghof co-organized a session on what lessons the Central American peace processes hold for Colombia’s recent peace agreement and its implementation. Given the high rates of violence in Guatemala and El Salvador, positive peace seems quite remote. So how can peace agreement turn from a signed document into a reality for the countries?

Santiago Flores of PREVENIR programme of GIZ in El Salvador highlighted the importance of a joint national vision, of state politics that are inclusive and tackle issues such as exclusion. He expressed the need to include the younger generation, especially those in criminal gangs, and seeking dialogue with them. Stefan Köhler of Civil Peace Service Guatemala and Carlos Sarti of Propaz Foundation Guatemala highlighted the potential of historic memory processes for a better future.

Viviana García of GIGA put emphasis on the role of elites in maintaining a status quo and evading necessary reforms. Andrés Home of the Como-Berghof Consortium implementing the component of territorial peacebuilding in ProPaz Colombia highlighted the importance of participatory mechanisms and social control, the need to tackle the structural factors of violence, such as exclusion, as well as the cultural transformation as lessons he is taking away for Colombia. For the international community and German Development cooperation, the recommendation is to endorse inclusive processes, considering both, victims and perpetrators, the need for psychological work and to address root causes of conflict and structural violence in order to make peace agreements a development agenda.

We heard from many participants who had not yet worked with and on the region that our session allowed them to familiarize themselves with the situation in their countries and to see important factors for the implementation phase.