Message from the Dean

Jose Luis Escalante Hernandez (left), a captain of the National Police of Colombia, and Marcelo Diaz, a representative from the Folke Bernadotte Academy, the Swedish Agency for Peace, Security and Development, speak at the "What happens after the Peace Accord?" event.

Jose Luis Escalante Hernandez (left), a captain of the National Police of Colombia, and Marcelo Diaz, a representative from the Folke Bernadotte Academy, the Swedish Agency for Peace, Security and Development, speak at the "What happens after the Peace Accord?" event.

The Colombian peace process is one of the most important phenomena of our time. After decades (some would argue centuries) of violence and infighting that has caused much suffering and held Colombia back, today the country showcases successes and failures from which we must learn best practices for shaping a new—and better—reality. Thus, as the Kroc School of Peace Studies, we are eager to learn and ready to support with our expertise.

For that reason, in 2017 Distinguished Professor Necla Tschirgi traveled to Bogotá, Colombia with a group of 16 graduate students. They had read and discussed Colombia’s peace agreement in advance of their trip. Since words can go far, and implementation can fall short, Tschirgi designed an intensive visit in which students could gain deeper insights into the complexities of the post-agreement process through dialogue with several actors from academia, government, business and civil society. During their visit, students even got to experience a protest, which they initially thought was in favor of the peace agreement. However, they quickly discovered the protest was against it. Not surprisingly, many students considered the coursework they completed in Colombia to be the best of their entire graduate program. For Tschirgi, it was certainly her favorite teaching experience.  

A year later, Colombia continues to be present at the Kroc School. MA in Peace and Justice student Kaitlyn Dugan has led an initiative to help answer an important question:“What happens after the Peace Accord?” Dugan invited General Álvaro Pico Malaver and Captain Jose Escalante from the Colombian National Police’s Peacebuilding Unit (UNIPEP) to share with the USD community the ways in which the police has redefined its role since the 2016 Final Peace Accord.

These two innovative leaders are so involved in the peace process that, at the last minute, General Pico Malaver was unable to come to San Diego—Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos had asked him to stay in the country to attend a disarmament ceremony. Captain Escalante, however, presented to an audience UNIPEP’s model of peacebuilding as one that reinforces a process of moving from negative peace (absence of violent conflict) to positive peace, where actors on different sides of the conflict feel included and coexist in a society with opportunities for all. Through the use of specific stories, Captain Escalante illustrated two interrelated components of the process: 1) the ways in which people in rural communities are now invited to come together to address basic issues that were previously taken to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC); 2) the innovations in policing which helped to change the perception of his organization from police force to police of service.  

Colombia surfaced once again at the Kroc School recently. Here, our success is measured in terms of the impact our professionals of peace create in the world, and on Saturday, April 28, we celebrated Alumni Honors with our Kroc School alumna honoree Eleonora-Markella Mantika ‘06 (MA). A few years after graduating from the MA in Peace and Justice program, Mantika volunteered in Burundi with Mines Advisory Group, and then through her work with the European Commission and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), she followed electoral processes in northern Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru, Myanmar and Azerbaijan.

While visiting us, she shared with current students how peacebuilding can be challenging. In those early years, she lived in tents and had limited resources, but she learned as much as she could along the way and remained committed to shaping a better world. With her knowledge (including fluency in four languages) and experience, Mantika was hired by the United Nations’ Department of Peacekeeping Operations and has worked in Ivory Coast, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In the last two years, Mantika has been working in Colombia as the political affairs/liaison officer with the United Nations Verification Mission. She has monitored the cessation of bilateral hostilities between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People's Army (FARC-EP) guerrilla and the laydown of arms. She is currently verifying the implementation of the peace agreement through the socioeconomic and political reincorporation of the FARC.

We invite you to watch the video about her work and celebrate with us the accomplishments of this bold and courageous peacebuilder from our school.  

Dean Patricia Marquez Dean Patricia Marquez "At the Kroc School, success is measured in terms of the impact our professionals of peace create in the world."