Report Implementing peace in Colombia: the challenges of FARC reintegration Monday 26 Wednesday 28 February 2018 WP1604.

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1 Image: Bogotá Street Art by McKay Savage Report Implementing peace in Colombia: the challenges of FARC reintegration Monday 26 Wednesday 28 February 2018 WP1604 Held in Colombia In association with:

2 Report Implementing peace in Colombia: the challenges of FARC reintegration Monday 26 Wednesday 28 February 2018 WP1604 Executive summary Reintegrating ex-combatants into civil society is one of the most complex and challenging processes involved in the transition to peace. The November 2016 peace agreement signed between the Colombian government and the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC all acronyms in the report are from the Spanish language names) established a timeframe of 15 years to complete this task. Nevertheless, only 15 months after the peace agreement was signed reintegration is already a hot topic in Colombian politics, with society remaining largely polarised towards the peace process. The Wilton Park Conference took place shortly before a major political shift resulting from legislative elections in March and presidential elections in May. Political parties and presidential candidates have diverging perspectives on the peace process, ranging from full commitment to the implementation of the peace agreement to more critical approaches regarding some of its main provisions. While government and legislative policy will thus be heavily influenced by whomever wins the elections, it is unlikely that the peace process will be reversed. Framing, priorities and rate of implementation, however, are sure to be affected. Nevertheless, a change in government also offers an opportunity for renewed energy and momentum. This report takes stock of some of the developments thus far and offers recommendations regarding the next steps for the peace process, with a focus on reintegration. There is a need to 1. proceed with adaptive planning to respond to emerging regional initiatives and opportunities; 2. take stock of lessons learned in Colombia under different governments as well as elsewhere in the world; 3. develop innovative approaches to security; 4. create a vision for an inclusive country; and 5. develop a horizontal relationship with the international community. Introduction 1. Wilton Park and the Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution (NOREF) organised a three-day closed conference in Colombia with the purpose of assessing the reintegration of former FARC combatants and providing recommendations for the future. The reintegration process began in August 2017 after the FARC completed the decommissioning of its weapons. 2. Some 50 Colombian and international experts participated in the discussions including representatives of the Colombian government, the FARC and civil society as well as international experts and diplomats. Two delegates from the Philippines (government and civil society) were also present. Page 1 of 10

3 3. The first section of the report provides a general overview of the achievements and challenges of the reintegration process. 4. The second part provides recommendations on how to address some of the main challenges. Colombia is an international reference point for peacebuilding 5. Throughout five decades of armed conflict, Colombia has been the site of clashes between several armed groups. These clashes have always ended through dialogue and the signing of a peace agreement; this was the case with several insurgent groups in the 1990s, the major paramilitary groups during the first decade of the 21st century and the FARC in This lengthy process has made Colombia a global reference point on how armed groups can transition to legality. In 2006 the Presidential Advisory Office for Reinsertion was created to establish reinsertion (a commonly used term in Colombia interchangeable with reintegration) as a long-term sustainable programme. In 2011 the Advisory Office became the Colombian Agency for Reinsertion (ACR), which enjoys greater administrative, financial and budgetary autonomy. 7. During the Havana peace talks, the Government accepted the FARC s proposal for a new kind of collective reinsertion, with emphasis not on ex-combatants but rather on the communities hit hardest by the conflict. This proposal for collective reintegration at the community level also stipulates renewed state presence in neglected regions and populations. 8. This new focus has proven to be a significant challenge for the state. The peace agreement saw the replacement of the ACR with a new institution: the Agency for Reinsertion and Normalisation (ARN) which also includes a new National Council for Reintegration (CNR), as well as 26 Regional Training and Reintegration Zones (ETCR) and their respective Regional Reintegration Councils (CTE). 9. This historical legacy, coupled with an extraordinary commitment to learning compared to other peace processes around the world, has allowed the government and the FARC to design a reinsertion process that boasts impressive progress after a mere 15 months. Important achievements in the reintegration process 10. In the first 15 months following the signing of the peace agreement, the country has reached a number of milestones that stand out in comparison to progress made in other countries. 11. In no other peace process in the world: have so many combatants (6,800) demobilised in such a short period of time (seven months); have so many weapons per combatant been handed over (1 or 2); has such a complex and ambitious comprehensive justice system been designed and implemented; has a differentiated strategy for the reinsertion of women been designed and implemented; nor has such a sophisticated mechanism for monitoring the implementation of this kind of agreement been negotiated. 12. Within the same timeframe of 15 months, only a handful of other places: have seen an insurgent group transition from illegality to active participation in politics (the FARC changed its name to Alternative Revolutionary Force for the Common People to reflect this transition, but maintaining the same acronym); have approved such a large number of decrees and laws (over 100), as well as constitutional reforms; have conducted censuses on the capabilities and needs of ex-combatants; or Page 2 of 10

4 have managed to assist 12,000 ex-combatants and militants (out of a list of 14,000 presented by the FARC). 13. Other important achievements in Colombia include: a tripartite mechanism to monitor the ceasefire (made up of the United Nations, the government and the FARC) with the majority of participants being of Latin American origin; the assembling of FARC combatants in designated zones, overseen by the armed forces, without incident; the creation last August of ECOMUN, the FARC cooperative designed to manage their production initiatives; and consensus endorsement from all 15 members of the United Nations Security Council, making Colombia s the only peace process to have garnered unanimous support. Despite achievements, significant challenges to reintegration remain 14. No peace agreement has ever been fully implemented anywhere in the world. Peace agreements can become pillars of transition, but the dynamics of power and of inclusion and exclusion in a given society will inevitably continue to determine the spectrum of change that is possible. In Colombia, some of the dynamics that have been observed in most peace processes around the world are being repeated. The government faces challenges as it attempts to put the peace agreement into practice. Congress is questioning parts of the peace agreement and is attempting to leave its own mark on the process. The judicial system has the power to consolidate provisions of the agreement, but also to question them. 15. The political will of the government is fundamental in the implementation of a peace agreement, but it is not enough. 16. Other dynamics affecting the transition process in Colombia that are common in other contexts include: polarised public opinion; weak political consensus; a certain amount of resistance to participation from the international community; a lack of commitment and consistency at certain levels of government; and the interference of elections. 17. In addition to such difficulties that are common in other contexts, unique challenges facing Colombia consist of: a political tradition with a strong judicial influence, which explains the fact that Colombia s peace agreement is the most extensive in recorded history; those challenges that arise when setting in motion institutional change and practices with few precedents, such as the reinsertion of ex-combatants at the community level; the coordination of the comprehensive justice system which is a complex mechanism comprising four components: the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP); the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition; the Unit for the Search for Persons Deemed as Missing in the Context of and Due to the Armed Conflict; and comprehensive reparation measures; an extensive territory and geographical and cultural diversity; the growth of the illegal economy primarily based on crops for illicit use and mining and energy extraction; and the cross-border dynamics of conflict and the added weight of the political and humanitarian crisis in neighbouring Venezuela. 18. Major practical challenges can be summarised as follows. Page 3 of 10

5 Access to land Collective reintegration is not possible without access to land. This does not figure in the peace agreement. In response to this challenge, the government has offered alternatives such as renting. Nevertheless, the FARC insist that purchasing must be an option to ensure that reinserted ex-combatants have access to credit and other benefits. It is also possible to look at alternatives including land acquisition through cooperatives. There are powerful interests that oppose the handing over of land, as evidenced by the assassination of rural community leaders and the fact that Congress did not approve the Comprehensive Rural Reform. The only projects currently being implemented are those with international funding. Access to financial resources International restrictions have made it extremely difficult for the FARC to access and manage financial resources. The peace agreement envisages bringing ex-combatants and militants into the formal banking system, enabling them to open savings accounts and to apply for credit cards. However, many leaders of the FARC remain on the Clinton List, a blacklist of people and businesses accused of handling profits from the global illegal drug trade. The banking sector in Colombia has claimed that if former FARC combatants were to be given access, this could be a breach of international financial sector sustainability regulations; to violate these standards would have serious implications in terms of reputation. These circumstances coupled with other restrictions caused by bureaucratic delays and other issues have compelled the FARC to call attention to the following. They do not have the resources to be able to participate in all the institutional settings where they are represented. ECOMUN has not been able to progress. Only three cooperatives have been formally established those that state they are not part of ECOMUN. It is easier to set up a corporation than a cooperative, something that weakens the ECOMUN initiative. The funds to run the FARC political party have not been paid out. Legal protection 19. The legal protection of ex-combatants and other parties depends on three basic conditions: 1. Agreements must be fulfilled. The Constitutional Court has made decisions that could be considered problematic, even contradictory, with respect to the JEP; it has said nothing regarding command responsibility, has eliminated third party responsibility, has reduced the duration of the JEP and given itself the final say, has placed new conditions on the participation of the FARC in the political sphere and has modified the penalty system. 2. All that is agreed upon and implemented must respect national and international standards in order to achieve legal legitimacy. Different sources have called attention to the inadequate regulation of the upper ranks of the armed forces (and the guerrilla) and to the risk of impunity in the case of false positives. This may in turn raise questions about the seriousness of the penalties being handed down in Colombia. 3. Implementation must be effective and earn social and political acceptance. Results thus far have been mixed. The amnesty law and its regulations have been applauded, along with the Unit for the Search for Missing Persons and the Truth Commission. On the other hand, the Constitutional Court raised concerns by reviewing the legislative act but no other regulations. 20. More specific problems worth highlighting include the following: Prisoners are being released at a slow rate even though there is an amnesty law with its corresponding regulations. Page 4 of 10

6 Only five judges have applied the law on their own initiative. A majority of judges have not applied the law within the necessary timeframe, and no disciplinary measures have been implemented as a consequence. The peace agreement calls for the release and relocation of the 4,000 detained FARC members to Rural Transitory Normalisation Zones. A total of 527 remain in prison, of which 255 find themselves in legal situations that have not been clarified. In addition, the lack of understanding among civil society organisations of the comprehensive justice system and its four components is cause for concern. The insistence that the JEP consider all victims cases as they would be considered in a criminal court could cause the JEP to collapse. Physical security Ex-combatants face assassination (there have been between 56 and 62 homicides to date), threats, displacement, recruitment by remaining illegal armed groups and sexual violence. The issue of ex-paramilitaries physical security is of a different scale: out of 23,000 that demobilised, 1,650 were assassinated in the first year and a total of 2,700 have been assassinated to date. However, this gap in figures must not be used to minimise the severity of a situation where people holding leadership roles in civil society organisations are also being targeted. The FARC and the government have established a broad institutional framework, but one that is not yet capable of providing satisfactory answers. 21. Factors creating the conditions for violence include: a growing presence of armed groups including the National Liberation Army (ELN), Popular Liberation Army (EPL), Gulf Clan, Gaitanista Self-Defence Forces, several criminal groups, and FARC dissidents; illegal economies including crops for illicit use, drug trafficking, mining and extortion; a complex triangle of complicity between communities, armed groups and those involved in illicit businesses, where people can move between the different categories these networks explain the uniqueness of the Colombian experience; the inadequate or non-existent state presence in vast swaths of the country; and society s failure to react, which suggests total indifference and political biases that keep victims, victimisers and certain regions out of the public eye. 22. It should also be noted that illegal mining is a larger industry in terms of profits and participants than the coca industry. The state lacks the legal mechanisms, principles and strategies to deal with this challenge. Diverse perspectives are needed to assess progress 23. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement, one of the most highly praised agreements in history thanks to its success in bringing decades of violent clashes between divided communities to an end. Nevertheless, Catholic and Protestant communities continue to live in different neighbourhoods, separated even by walls. Children attend different schools and the government is in constant crisis due to disagreements between the major political parties. 24. Certain elements of Northern Ireland s current state of affairs are worrisome; however, a broader perspective on the situation confirms the following: Neither community would support a return to violence. The peace agreement has brought Ireland economic prosperity and a remarkable cultural awakening. The peace agreement was adapted to the times with a new agreement that of St Andrews in Associations of combatants, victims and members of civil society made it possible for these segments of the population to participate in public policy at all levels, particularly the local level. This social movement rises above the stagnated political system of the country. Today Northern Ireland is a polarised society, but it is a society at peace. Page 5 of 10

7 25. The social and political scepticism that plagued the entire negotiation process contrasted with the constant criticism over delays and problems in implementing the agreement is one of the paradoxes in present-day Colombia. Colombians are aware of the difficulties posed by the transition process, but expectations remain high. The magnitude of the challenges being faced is a constant source of distress, and it is possible to lose sight of the fact that it is currently only 15 months into a process designed to take 15 years. 26. The end of the conflict with the FARC is quite possibly Colombia s most significant political milestone of the past 50 years. An analysis going beyond the most obvious indicators reveals the following: Attitudes in society have changed. Despite being controversial, debates on transitional justice, political participation and gender issues have raised awareness and enabled society to explore fundamental concepts. Innovative initiatives, mechanisms and partnerships between diverse stakeholders have emerged. The FARC and the government have succeeded in maintaining high levels of trust. According to recent surveys, businesspeople are willing to collaborate with the JEP even though the political landscape suggests otherwise. Forums to engage in dialogue with sectors that promoted the No vote in the referendum for peace are making it possible to identify and address the primary sources of disagreement in a more low-key manner. 27. What was very recently considered unimaginable is now becoming normal. 28. While monitoring and constructive criticism are essential to progress, an excess of criticism from all sides threatens to erode public trust in national and international institutions. Recommendations 29. Taking into account the aforementioned points and the change in national government soon to take place in Colombia, this report provides the following recommendations which came out of the discussions held during the conference. Proceed with adaptive planning to respond to emerging regional initiatives 30. The time for declaring that the government is not being true to its word is up; this must now be backed with proposals. It is understood that the evolving situation on the ground is complex and that a learning process will take place. Several spontaneous initiatives are worth highlighting: In some of the Regional Training and Reintegration Zones, FARC commanders have made a shift from military to socio-political leadership and strong ties have been formed with surrounding communities. Initiatives for collaboration between ex-combatants and the private sector and local governments have been set up in several departments including Meta, Guaviare, Cauca and Santander as well as in the city of Cali. One such initiative is that of the government of Antioquia, which set up a Departmental Reintegration Board with the participation of the central government and the FARC and with the presence of the international community. 31. Other experiences around the world would suggest that it is advisable to understand the implementation of peace agreements as an organic process, and to adapt perspectives and set up initiatives beyond what is strictly stated in the agreement. A peace agreement is, after all, a static picture of a changing reality at both the national and international levels. 32. As such, it is important to identify, recognise and support new regional initiatives and leadership, whether they come from ex-combatants, civil society organisations, the private sector or regional institutions. Page 6 of 10

8 Take stock of lessons learned in Colombia under different governments, and elsewhere in the world 33. The negotiations between the government and the FARC were greatly influenced by lessons learned in previous negotiation processes, both in Colombia and around the world. 34. Despite important advancements made during the negotiations, certain stakeholders familiar with the reinsertion process have warned of the following: The offer made in the peace agreement to provide a basic income of 90% of the minimum wage if the beneficiary is not working constitutes a bad incentive. The challenging issue of individual versus collective reintegration was not addressed in Havana. Colombia has accumulated significant experience in individual reinsertion. Institutional reform was necessary to confront the challenges of collective reinsertion, but perhaps a complete overhaul was not necessary considering that capacity is lost this way. The Regional Training and Reintegration Zones are in remote areas, making them poorly located for economically sustainable reintegration. More and better measures could have been taken to prevent security vacuums in regions previously controlled by the FARC. 35. The following are potential suggestions for moving forward: Prioritise access for reinserted populations to land, the financial system and production initiatives (both individual and collective). Work on delivering an institutional response that is more harmonised. Strengthen emerging efforts to involve local and departmental authorities as well as the private sector in the creation of Regional Reintegration Councils. Put a greater focus on operational responses than on developing a new institutional framework. Limit ideological discussions at the National Council for Reintegration and streamline decision making. Provide the general public and the international community with a more consistent communications campaign. Coordinate individual and collective reintegration, as both are important. Individual reintegration is a speedier process, while collective reintegration requires more time. Put differentiated assistance into practice for youth, the disabled and Indigenous peoples. Maintain support for reintegration beyond the two- or three-year mark (the international average). Develop innovative approaches to security 36. The case of Northern Ireland demonstrates that a certain degree of polarisation is inevitable. It is not a matter of covering up points of divergence but of promoting channels and practices that make it possible to address underlying concerns with proposals that can be widely debated not only between political actors but also with society as a whole. 37. It could be argued that the central theme in any country seeking to overcome war is security. This includes the security of people living in regions devastated by violence and of people who decide to lay down their weapons, national security in the face of organised crime, and legal and even psychological protection in the face of great uncertainty. The following recommendations are made in consideration of these challenges: Increase efforts to prevent threats against and assassinations of community leaders and reintegrated persons. Expand research on the roots of violent acts and dispel the belief that such occurrences are a normal part of any transition process. Use societal debate to expand on terms like justice and impunity with regards to crimes committed during the armed conflict, and to discuss the reason for and meaning of transitional justice. Page 7 of 10

9 Clarify the reach and the limitations of the JEP to encourage realistic expectations and channel efforts. Victims organisations and the JEP itself need a training centre run by people with teaching capacities gained through other peace processes. Initiate the postponed debate on the new model for the armed forces in the post- FARC era, and on the reforms needed to face shifting security challenges. Establish specific responses to threats made in regions with high levels of violence. The microfocusing efforts of the recently initiated Orus Plan to occupy former FARC territories with 63,000 military personnel is the first step towards providing an adequate response to the needs of the people, but it is important to go beyond coercive strategies to develop comprehensive approaches (evidence of this can be found in the war on illegal drugs in Mexico, to provide an example). Create innovative solutions to combat the illegal economy. Expand teaching programs that address values as a strategy to combat the culture that supports the underground economy. Encourage dialogue and help build trust between the armed forces and social and institutional actors in the various regions of the country. Create a vision for an inclusive country 38. Colombia must go beyond its legitimate and necessary political differences to conceptualise a future that appeals to society in general. History has been plagued by political violence and stigmatisation. The discourse of fear has spread throughout the social fabric and even entered the cultural subconscious. The time has come for a discourse of hope, and to build a welcoming society, not just for the demobilised but for all schools of thought. 39. The discourse of hope cannot be a superficial one boasting only good intentions. In Colombia, as in all societies that have suffered through internal conflict, there is still no consensus on the causes of the conflict. As such, it is important to listen to and respect the wide range of stories told, and to begin to build bridges between seemingly opposing perspectives. The peace process is not a concession to guerrilla groups, but rather a commitment to building a better country. 40. The communications strategy of the peace process has not had the desired social impact. This has led to a situation in which half the country is fearful of what may come. It may be beneficial to change the language and develop a new vocabulary to promote new attitudes. A cultural shift is also necessary to value life and differences. 41. Both the government and the FARC have individual and collective responsibilities, but the media and cultural agents also play a key role. Develop a horizontal relationship with the international community 42. Unlike other transitions to peace on the international stage, in Colombia the role of the international community has been modest in terms of both political and economic support. This explains the fact that the peace negotiations were held without external mediation and that the United Nations Mission has a very limited mandate. A conference of donors would not have been appropriate in Colombia. The relatively modest financial contributions are channelled through four multi-donor funds. 43. The major player in the peace process is the nation, while the international community plays a secondary or complementary role. 44. Nevertheless, the participation of the international community is a sensitive subject that requires frank dialogue between governments and the various political, economic and social actors in Colombia: The donor community has repeatedly requested greater clarity and transparency around the prioritisation of international contributions. The government has expressed regret that some activities to support reinsertion do not pass through the National Council for Reintegration and has warned of the risk that the national and international strategies could come apart (as was the case in Guatemala and El Salvador). Page 8 of 10

10 The FARC have called for harmonisation of the international aid on offer and the prioritised needs of the population being reintegrated. International aid must go through the National Council for Reintegration to avoid dispersion and unequal access among Regional Reintegration Councils. 45. The international community does not avoid self-criticism: More strategic methods are required. Efforts to facilitate dialogue in Havana and preparations for implementing the agreements could have been better supported. There is a lack of coordination between support for peace (the major focus of the agreement) and support for development. An emphasis on action without harm continues to be necessary. 46. On the other hand, the international presence has and continues to be fundamental to the legitimacy and protection of civil society organisations, especially with regards to humanitarian issues and human rights. Nevertheless, this support has led to a certain level of economic dependence among civil society organisations. In the past, international support for civil society at times created tension with the national government, a situation to which no one wishes to return. 47. A lack of continuity in international support poses an even greater risk. Colombia competes for limited economic resources and diplomatic attention with other places undergoing conflict and transition. As a middle-income country with strong capabilities, it is increasingly difficult for embassies to justify continued support for Colombia to their own countries. Paradoxically, Colombia could become the victim of its own success. 48. The sustainability of international support for the peace process in Colombia depends on a paradigm shift capable of justifying the need for such support, both in Colombia and the donor countries. 49. In such a paradigm shift, international support begins to be understood as a strategic necessity among equal countries and societies. We are not currently in a situation where international actors are handing over money and know-how to a poor and ignorant society. As stated in the United Nations sustainable development goals, peacebuilding cuts across borders and is a global objective. Nevertheless, it is important to keep the following in mind: In peacebuilding there are no recipes. Since the end of the Cold War, no peace process has succeeded in overcoming all structural causes of violence. The world is therefore engaged in a learning process on how to achieve lasting peace. In this learning process, countries that suffer from conflict have as much or more knowledge to contribute than countries that do not suffer directly. 50. At the same time, the international community must uphold a long-term commitment: It must assume responsibility for its role in narcotics consumption, natural resource extraction and maintaining lists of terrorist organisations. Peace in Colombia is a requirement for stability in the region, especially in relation to the political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. 51. Peacebuilding is undoubtedly a collective challenge faced by all of humanity. Through horizontal collaboration all parties contribute, learn and benefit. Kristian Herbolzheimer Wilton Park May 2018 Wilton Park reports are intended to be brief summaries of the main points and conclusions of a conference. Reports reflects rapporteurs accounts of the proceedings and do not necessarily reflect the views of the rapporteur. Wilton Park reports and any recommendations contained therein do not necessarily represent the views of or institutional policy for Wilton Park, the FCO or the UK government. Page 9 of 10

11 Should you wish to read other Wilton Park reports, or participate in upcoming Wilton Park conferences, please consult our website To receive our e- newsletter and latest updates on conferences subscribe to Page 10 of 10

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