After 18 months of work, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have continued to make steady progress in implementing commitments outlined in the country’s 2016 peace accord. According to the second report by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, released Thursday (Aug. 9), implementation activity has been observed for 61 percent of the 578 stipulations in the accord, with no activity observed yet for 39 percent of the stipulations, as of May 31, 2018.
“The data shows that the peace agreement is making steady progress and is on pace with other comprehensive peace agreements in moving toward implementation,” said David Cortright, the director of the Kroc Institute’s Peace Accords Matrix (PAM).
The second Kroc Institute report, which tracks implementation progress from Dec. 1, 2016, to May 31, 2018, highlights significant progress in areas related to the ceasefire, cantonment, laying down of arms and the transformation of the FARC into a political party with representation in Congress.
But challenges still remain. The report identifies three key areas of concern: inadequate guarantees of security and protection for human rights advocates and social leaders; the slow processes of long-term political, social and economic reincorporation for ex-combatants; and pending legislative and regulatory adjustments needed in order to promote broad participation in democratic processes. The report also emphasizes the difficulties faced in implementing the gender, ethnic and territorial approaches that are key features of the Colombian peace agreement.
Paying immediate attention to these issues would move the country toward a more sustainable peace and a better quality of life for residents in rural areas, victims of the conflict and all Colombians.
“The transformation of the country and peacebuilding are long-term processes that require the commitment of all of Colombian society,” said Borja Paladini Adell, Kroc Institute representative in Colombia. “All sectors have a role to play in the implementation of this agreement. Promoting effective and efficient implementation will be one of the main challenges the new [Colombian] government will face."
The report commends the progress and recommends that, moving forward, the implementation process should have an increased focus on institutional and structural transformation, with greater emphasis on social inclusion, citizen participation, implementation in rural territories across the country, security guarantees, respect for human rights and providing effective mechanisms for transparency and accountability.
“The implementation of a peace agreement, especially after so many decades of conflict, is a difficult and complex process and it takes many years to generate changes,” said Paladini Adell. “However, as a commitment on behalf of the state that goes beyond partisan political ties and specific government administrations, the implementation process can become an opportunity for transformation, guaranteeing the right to peace and sustainable development and creating a more democratic and equitable society.”
The Kroc Institute, an integral part of the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs, has been asked to provide technical verification and monitoring of implementation of the accord through the Barometer Initiative, part of the PAM research project. The Kroc Institute partners with the National Secretariat for the Social Pastorate-Caritas Colombiana to administer a team of peacebuilding professionals who provide on-the-ground monitoring in Colombia.
Compared to the 34 comprehensive peace agreements in the PAM database, the implementation of the Colombian peace accord is progressing at an average pace.
“We have an objective, quantitative process that covers every single commitment in the Colombian accord and we can compare that to 34 other comprehensive peace agreements around the world,” said Cortright. “We can step back and take a look at the whole agreement and step even further back to look at what’s happened in similar contexts around the world.”
Other key findings from the Kroc Institute’s second report include:
- Each month since December 2016, the number of stipulations moving from zero implementation into the categories of minimum, intermediate or complete has increased.
- Since December 2016, the percentage of stipulations that have been fully implemented has increased from 4 to 21 percent, representing a five-fold increase.
- As of May 2018, 21 percent of the stipulations have been fully implemented; 9 percent have intermediate implementation, and 31 percent have been minimally implemented. Thirty-nine percent have not been initiated, although of this group, approximately 5 percent are scheduled to begin implementation in 2019.
Kroc’s report states, “At the heart of the Colombia accord is the promise of institutional and structural reform, especially in the territories, together with greater social inclusion, public participation, respect for human rights, and government accountability. The new government should persist in working to achieve these goals to assure sustainable peace and development and create a more democratic and equitable society in Colombia.”
Madhav Joshi, associate director of PAM, and Jason Quinn, research associate professor with PAM, have published findings in Conflict Management and Peace Science that demonstrate that successful implementation of peace accords is a predictor of not only sustained peace, but also economic health.
“Our research shows that implementation success brings more foreign direct investment compared to other conflict termination types,” said Joshi. “We found that the single biggest predictor of durable peace is the implementation of the negotiated agreement. By fulfilling the implementation of the peace agreement, the Colombian government will be able to achieve durable peace and also attract tremendous foreign investments that would significantly transform the Colombian economy.”
Cortright notes that the world sees Colombia’s peace accord as a beacon of hope, not only for the country but also for regional stability.
The Kroc Institute report urges the new government to continue implementing the accord, to strengthen cooperation with the international community and to work to create spaces for dialogue across diverse viewpoints.
“The Kroc Institute will accompany the efforts of Colombians in building a peaceful country, and we trust that the [Iván] Duque administration and Congress will see implementation of the peace accord as an opportunity to construct quality peace in Colombia,” said Cortright.
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