Good municipal governance leads to peace in Colombia
Title: Paz Comunal – Good Governance for Peace
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Presidential Agency for International Cooperation in Colombia
Overall term: 2020 to 2022
The Colombian peace process is a symbol of how even long-running violent conflicts can be solved through dialogue and negotiations.
The peace treaty with the Colombian Revolutionary Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC) requests Germany’s help in coming to terms with the violent past and having the rights of the victims recognised. Therefore, GIZ primarily lends its support in setting up dialogue forums and promoting cooperation between the state institutions and civil society.
Great challenges face the peace process in Colombia. The complex implementation of the agreement is advancing steadily, but slowly – not least because there is no robust political consensus. The new institutions created for its purpose are struggling for recognition and sufficient resources. New and old armed groups are attempting to gain control over lucrative, illegal businesses (in the fields of coca production and gold mining). As a result, violence against local peace and human rights activists is rising.
To successfully implement the peace agreement, peace has to be established through good governance. Although Colombia possesses a sound legal framework and adequate institutions for transparency and accountability, corruption, authoritarian and informal networks, as well as a fear regarding political participation and denunciation, persist.
The country has several legal mechanisms and forums for citizen participation, such as the citizens’ committees (Juntas de Acción Comunal, JACs), but women and young people still rarely get involved in them. The government is also attempting to promote digital solutions by passing legislation. In rural areas, this largely fails owing to a lack of training and infrastructure for digitalisation and innovation.
In Columbia, local governmental and non-governmental actors are working together transparently to build peace in their regions.
The project is working in three related and complementary areas:
Transparency and accountability: Mayors are receiving support to create transparency in their administration. The instruments created for this purpose are straightforward and accessible to citizens.
Inclusive participation: The project is raising the participation of women and youth in political and social affairs.
Innovation laboratory: Innovative initiatives by local organisations and institutions are receiving support. They jointly develop and implement ideas for local participatory processes, transparency and peacebuilding.
The project takes into account the different situations of the municipalities regarding security, implementation skills, the actors involved and previous experience. It contributes to building trust between governmental institutions and citizens, and between the citizens themselves. In addition, it is planned to involve the actors in information and knowledge management, as well as in non-violent communication, and make them more effective. With the help of the project, existing mechanisms for transparency and citizen participation as well as digital tools will be improved and strengthened. The aim is to enable municipalities and regions to actively share their experiences and learn from one another.