Supporting Peacebuilding in Development Cooperation in Colombia

Our facilitative and advisory work supports CERCAPAZ (Cooperación entre Estado y Sociedad Civil para el Desarollo de la Paz), a major GIZ-administered peacebuilding programme in Colombia. The programme’s main goal is to build trust between state and civil society actors. Along with a team of highly skilled local colleagues we support this development programme in terms of internal learning, concept development, capacity building, planning and strategy development. The aim is to strengthen the CERCAPAZ team to enhance its service to their partners and clients, namely the public administration, civil society organisations and other key stakeholders.

Our partnership with CERCAPAZ began in 2011. The programme focuses on the overarching issues of ensuring inclusive processes – on victims, on shaping the way individuals and communities can live together (convivencia) and on developing joint visions between stakeholders. Thus, it aims at tackling both structural and proximate causes of the conflict. With the peace negotiations between the government and FARC-EP underway, and those between the government and ELN in an exploratory phase, cooperation and trust-building between the public administration and civil society is becoming even more important as the spaces it creates can serve as a “safety net” to bolster the negotiation processes against breaking down.


2011 – 2015

Project Website (Spanish)

Conflict Setting

For over 50 years, Colombia has faced internal armed conflicts. In October 2012, negotiations with FARC, the largest guerrilla group, began in Havana, Cuba. Exploratory talks between ELN, another guerrilla group, and the government have now become official. However, paramilitary organisations still pose a serious threat to the country’s security, despite their (flawed) demobilisation in 2003.

The challenges facing the talks and the entire country are huge: around 5-5.5 million Colombians are internally displaced; 220.000 victims of armed conflict and the gross human rights violations committed since 1985 call for action. Drawing upon lessons from previously failed peace processes, the key topics on this peace talk agenda between the government and FARC include: rural development, political participation, ending the armed conflict, caring for victims and addressing illicit crops and drug trafficking. Input from civil society is currently organised in round tables and forums.


By advising and training the GIZ programme team of around 25 Colombian advisers, we bring our experience and skills to bear on a major development programme. We provide the team with space to learn and reflect and we support them in publishing lessons learned and good practices. We have conducted two training rounds on issues of process consulting and conflict transformation. By facilitating planning and strategy sessions and providing coaching, we have assisted the programme in enhancing its performance in its fast-moving and complex environment. We also developed a scheme for training dialogue practitioners. In the long run, after the programme ends in early 2015, they will be able to assume the role which CERCAPAZ advisers have long had for consultation and dialogue processes.


Participants have repeatedly expressed how their attitudes, perceptions and actions have shifted over time. They feel more confident in their role as external advisors or facilitators. For the multipliers trained as dialogue practitioners, the exchange of experiences and the joint learning have been inspiring. Beyond their enhanced capacities, is seems that the act of completing a formal training and receiving a certificate at the end heightened participants’ visibility and legitimacy vis-à-vis the stakeholders requesting their support.

By focusing on Colombian programme experts and key multipliers, we are helping strengthen capacities that will serve in Colombia beyond the duration of CERCAPAZ.

Our support has also resulted in:

  • access to the lessons learned of CERCAPAZ for Colombian actors and international agencies,
  • a series of publications sharing lessons learned from the programme in 2014,
  • trained advisors with high methodological and reflective potential as future change agents (two capacity-building schemes on advisory roles and conflict transformation, each lasting one year and consisting of three training modules),
  • dialogue practitioners trained with the programme’s national and regional partners (3 workshops in 2013),  
  • sound strategies and work plans for the programme.

Key Actors & Regions

We support CERCAPAZ in its work at the national level and in three programme regions: Caldas in the coffee-growing central region, Norte Santander close to the Venezuelan border and César in the North. In all regions and on all levels, CERCAPAZ works together with public authorities and administration and civil society organisations in various sectors - mainly victims’ reparation, the inclusion of youth and women in public planning and private-sector involvement. On the national level, the partners include for example the National Planning Department, the non-governmental network Redprodepaz and the National Unit for Victim’s Assistance and Reparation.

Partners & Funders

The project is implemented by a consortium of the Berghof Foundation (thematic lead) and COMO Consult, Hamburg with a pool of dedicated local, regional and international experts to provide internal services to GIZ-CERCAPAZ.

February 2014 - Annual Programme Planning Workshop

In February 2014, the consortium facilitated the annual planning workshop of the programme. This workshop focussed on identifying the last steps to be taken in 2014 in order to consolidate (a) the thematic networks, methodological tools and alliances, and (b) other outcomes the programme has established.

October 2013 – Expert Meeting of German Development Cooperation

Our colleagues facilitated the second expert meeting of the German Development Cooperation in the field of peacebuilding. Members of governmental and non-governmental entities and programmes discussed possible scenarios for upcoming peace talks and options for development cooperation. They were able to develop a joint understanding of each others’ activities, exchange information and agree on coordination mechanisms.

  • Elke Breckner & Uta Giebel: Erkenntnisse für die Entwicklung und Gestaltung der Management- und Steuerungsstruktur eines Programms der Technischen Zusammenarbeit. 2015. Bonn: GIZ GmbH. PDF >
  • Uta Giebel & Barbara Unger: There is no way around it: We need strong teams for working on fragile and conflict contexts. 2015. Bonn: GIZ/Cercapaz. PDF >
  • Uta Giebel & Barbara Unger: Erfahrungen zu Steuerung und Führung in einem Friedensentwicklungsvorhaben. 2015. Bogotá D.C.. PDF >
  • Johanna Willems, Uta Giebel, Barbara Unger et al.: Reflexionar - Concertar - Actuar. 2014. Bogotá D.C.. PDF >
  • Carlos H. Fernández: Academia y Construcción de Paz en Colombia. 2014. Bogotá D.C.. PDF >
  • Lorena Cantillo, Hilka Langohr, Juanita Méndez et al.: Comités Territoriales de Justicia Transicional y Mesas de Participación de Víctimas. 2014. Bogotá D.C.. PDF >
  • Nubia Leal de Castro & Uta Giebel: Ideas para fomentar la articulación entre Nación, departamento y municipio. 2014. PDF >
  • Joerg Le Blanc: Iniciativas con jóvenes en prevención de violencias y Construcción de Paz. 2014. Bogotá D.C.. PDF >
  • Carlos H. Fernández: Culturas de Paz como enfoque en la Cooperación Alemana. 2014. Bogotá D.C.. PDF >
  • Jaime Andrés Gómez, María Paula Prada & Barbara Unger: Transformación de conflictos mediante el diálogo. 2014. Bogotá D.C.. PDF >
  • Silke Pfeiffer: Transparencia y participación para generar confianza. 2014. Bogotá D.C.. PDF >
  • Myriam Sánchez, María Paula Prada & Lorena Cantillo: Sociedad Civil y Estado, en confianza: camino para construir paz. 2014. PDF >
  • Jaime Andrés Gómez, Hilka Langohr, María Claudia Linares et al.: Compendio de orientaciones prácticas y aprendizajes de la cooperación entre Estado y Sociedad Civil para el desarrollo de la paz. 2014. PDF >

  • Further project-related publications can be found at CERCAPAZ’ website: (Spanish)