Peace fund: a contribution to the implementation of the peace agreement
Project title: Fondo Vivir la Paz peace fund
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Lead executing agency: Colombian Presidential Agency for International Cooperation (APC-Colombia)
Overall term: 2017 to 2019
Colombia faces a major challenge. The state and Colombian society need to implement the peace agreement signed in 2016. The agreement between the Colombian Government and the left-wing guerrilla group FARC was reached with the help of international mediators after 50 years of protracted armed conflict. Following its rejection by voters in a national referendum, it was passed by a slim majority in the country’s parliament at the second attempt after various changes were made. The task now is to make progress in the five areas specified in the peace agreement:
- comprehensive land reform;
- action to promote political participation among citizens and civil society;
- a cease-fire and the disarming of rebel groups;
- tackling the illicit drugs problem;
- compensation for victims.
Given the continued and widespread lack of trust shown by Colombians in the state, tangible results need to be achieved as quickly as possible. There is still a high degree of social inequality, and violence remains common. The smaller guerrilla force ELN has not yet signed a peace agreement, and not all former members of the FARC have agreed to lay down their arms.
The full potential of the peace agreement as part of the wider peace process can only be realised if Colombians actually see positive changes taking place. To date, there have been few opportunities for people to put forward their own ideas and projects and therefore help to implement the peace agreement. Equally, civil society organisations lack the resources and funding they need to set up and run their own projects.
Colombians are given a sense of the importance of the peace agreement as part of the wider peace process.
The fund has adopted a regional and local focus with two complementary fields of activity that involve supporting projects and developing the capacity of the various cooperation partners. This approach is intended to strengthen the future role of those stakeholders involved in the peace process.
The ‘fund’ can support projects flexibly and in response to what is required at any given time. It is open to civil society and state organisations and is related thematically to the peace agreement. Funding priorities governing future calls for proposals are established twice a year. A committee made up of representatives from the German Embassy, GIZ and the Colombian partner selects project proposals on the basis of predefined criteria. Selected projects may then be eligible to receive up to EUR 100,000 for up to ten months.
It is hoped that the involvement of civil society organisations in work to implement the peace agreement will make the agreement more tangible for local people. In turn, this should also help to build trust between different groups (ex-combatants, internally displaced people, returnees, victims) and between the state and Colombian society as a whole. The projects selected for funding have to meet certain criteria. They must, for example, have a long-term strategy. This means that there is a good chance of them producing impacts beyond the actual funding period by forming alliances with other state and non-state institutions or by working with other projects in the regions prioritised by German development cooperation agencies. The lessons learned during these projects are systematically documented and disseminated using the most effective communication channels so that the results can also filter through into other regions.
In the first call for funding applications in relation to the theme of ‘victims’ rights’, project proposals were submitted by around 270 organisations wishing to contribute from a civil society perspective to the work of the newly established truth commission and the special unit set up to search for missing persons. Five projects covering three of the country’s regions will each receive the maximum level of funding.