Support for peacebuilding

Project description

Title: Programme to support peacebuilding in Colombia (ProPaz)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Colombia
Lead executing agency: Colombian Presidential Agency of International Cooperation (APC-Colombia)
Overall term: 2015 to 2019

Colombia is a country with two faces. On the one hand it boasts steady economic growth, a burgeoning middle class living in modern cities, resource wealth, and a stable, internationally oriented economic policy. However, this contrasts sharply with the extreme social inequality that has been fuelling armed conflict for more than 50 years, a conflict which claims human lives on a daily basis.

Despite the progress made with the provision of state services, a humanitarian crisis persistently prevails: the national register for victims of the armed conflict now lists over eight million people. Against this background, the Victims and Land Restitution Law of 2011 is the most ambitious legislative project of the government of President Juan Manuel Santos. In 2012, Santos also entered into peace talks with the FARC-EP, South America’s oldest and largest guerrilla movement. These negotiations are now in their final stages.

Despite initial achievements, the President’s peace policy has a long way to go. The administrative and justice systems at regional and national level require strengthening if they are to process more rapidly the large number of cases to compensate victims and punish the perpetrators. The coordination of the 50 or more actors formally involved in these cases could also be improved. In addition, the dialogue between civil society and the state must be intensified. Decision-makers in the country’s regions need encouragement and support with implementing national policies. In contrast to other conflict regions around the world, Colombia is seeking to compensate victims and punish the perpetrators while the armed conflict is still ongoing.

Peace policies are implemented efficiently and in a participatory manner at national, regional and local level.

The programme works in three areas of activity.

Regional Peacebuilding: In this area the advisory consortium Como-Berghof acts on behalf of ProPaz to advise the administrations of provinces, regional departments and municipalities on incorporating peacebuilding measures into regional and local development plans. Civil society is to be involved in the preparation and implementation of these development plans.

Criminal Justice and Historical Truth’: Here the programme supports cooperation between the public prosecutor’s office, the courts and the Ministry of Justice, with a view to reaching and implementing verdicts based on the Justice and Peace Law more efficiently and protecting the rights of victims. The Justice and Peace Law formed the legal basis for the mass disarmament of paramilitary groups from 2005 onwards. In collaboration with the National Centre for Historical Memory (Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica), the programme provides support to both government and society in their joint efforts to come to terms with the conflict, with the goal of laying the foundations for a culture of peace.

Victim Compensation and Land Restitution: In this third area, the programme supports coordination between state and civil society with a view to more efficient implementation of legislation geared to victim compensation, in particular the Victims and Land Restitution Law.

Provincial governments and communities in the programme regions Norte de Santander and Meta are integrating peacebuilding into their regional and local development plans. ProPaz helped the Round Table of relevant authorities (comprising the National Planning Department, the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace and the Ministry for Post-Conflict) to develop common guidelines for mayors and provincial governments so as to facilitate the integration of key peacebuilding issues into regional and local development plans.

The historical reappraisal of the armed conflict is of growing importance in Colombian society. One way in which ProPaz has contributed to this is by organising a study trip to Germany for staff of various national and regional organisations involved in activities to deal with the past.

ProPaz helped create a manual which explains to officials of the ombuds office (Defensoría del Pueblo) the individual steps involved in obtaining reparations for the victims of armed conflict. This means that the collective compensation of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, for example, can be dealt with more effectively.

Colombia: Stones serve as memorials to the victims of armed conflict in the humanitarian zone ‘Civilian Community for Life and Peace’ at El Castillo in the Meta region. © GIZ


Anja Heuft