In the Field
Policy Advocacy for Peace in Colombia
IPJ Policy Initiatives
From Jan. 30 to 31, 2012, IPJ Executive Director Milburn Line presented at a workshop and public forum with leading Colombian academics and peace advocates on possibilities for peace in Colombia, and the potential U.S. role. The forum was organized by the Centro de Estudios Estadounidenses and Programa de Investigación de Conflicto Armado y Construcción de Paz at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá.
Further details on the policy benefits of a U.S.-supported peace initiative in Colombia are available in two
Peace & Justice Policy Briefs:
“Retooling U.S. Policy for Peace in Colombia” (February 2011)
"The Case for United States Support for Peace in Colombia" (October 2012)
To date, the IPJ has also published a series of op-ed and analytical pieces in multiple news outlets:
Nancy Sánchez and Milburn Line. "Missing from Colombia, FARC peace negotiations: women." Christian Science Monitor. October 18, 2012.
Nancy Sánchez and Milburn Line. "Mujer, Paz Y Seguridad en Colombia." Foreign Policy en Español. October 11, 2012.
Milburn Line. "The Colombia conundrum: Why the United States should support the peace talks." Global Post. September 29, 2012.
Milburn Line. "Did U.S. squander an opportunity to lead coming Colombian peace talks?" Global Post. September 2, 2012.
“La Asignatura Pendiente de Rajoy en Colombia.” Foreign Policy en Español. April 18, 2012.
“Ending Colombia’s Battle with FARC — Once and For All.” Foreign Affairs. March 27, 2012.
“Beyond Free Trade with Colombia.” Huffington Post. May 27, 2011.
“Free Trade Through Peace in Colombia.” San Diego Union-Tribune. April 7, 2011.
“Camino a la Paz en Colombia.” Foreign Policy en Español. April 5, 2011.
“Counterpoint: A New Plan for Colombia.” International Herald Tribune. August 18, 2010.
“U.S. Needs to Reevaluate Plan Colombia.” Los Angeles Times. August 5, 2010.
“Will We Ever Learn in Latin America? ” San Diego Union-Tribune. December 13, 2009.
“Rethink Latin American Policy.” San Diego Union-Tribune. September 4, 2009.
The Case for a Peace Agenda
The 60-year civil war continues to cause serious human rights and humanitarian consequences in Colombia. Failed negotiations a decade ago, commonly referred to as “the Caguán peace process,” cast a pall over ensuing efforts to pursue peace. Neither the governments of Colombia nor the United States – which has invested more than $8 billion in assistance to Colombia over the last decade in a predominantly military strategy for ending the conflict – have placed seeking peace among their current strategic priorities.
Beyond the moral imperative, peace is simply good policy. Despite progress on strengthening its democratic institutional capacity over the last decade, Colombia has created the world’s largest internally displaced population, more than 5 million people living in deprivation after fleeing violence. Some 27,000 forced disappearances are registered, a number as egregious as other infamous cases in the region, in places like Argentina and Guatemala.
Colombian courts are investigating upwards of 2,547 cases of extrajudicial killings, in which the Armed Forces are accused of murdering civilians and presenting them as combat kills. Colombia has had the highest number of murders of trade unionists each year for more than a decade. Even an initial standard-setting agreement between insurgents and the security forces could mitigate the effects of the conflict on the civilian population – Afro-Colombians, indigenous, peasants and urban poor – caught in the crossfire.
The United States banner issues in Colombia, free trade and consolidating a U.S. military presence, do not adequately reflect the potential for U.S. leadership and our peaceful, democratic values. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, with consistent 80 percent approval ratings in his first year in office, has the political capital and vision for pursuing a peace agenda.
Past Activities in Colombia
(Pictured above: children's art at FICONPAZ; Progam Officer Elena McCollim with FICONPAZ staff and volunteer; street theater in front of a school in Bogotá)
Partially funded by an International Opportunity Grant from the University of San Diego, IPJ staff members Dee Aker and Elena McCollim traveled to Colombia in November/December 2008 on the invitation of the Corporación Universitaria Minuto de Dios, or Uniminuto. In addition to meeting with representatives from the school, the pair also met with nongovernmental and government-affiliated organizations focusing on gender, human rights, peacebuilding and peace education, in order to conduct an assessment of the conflict situation and discuss potential collaborative projects. These organizations included Corporacion Sisma Mujer, Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres, the Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace, the USAID office in Colombia, the Comisión Nacional de Reparaciones y Reconciliación (CNRR), Centro de Investigacion y Educacion Popular (CINEP) and the Foundation for the Institute for the Construction of Peace, or FICONPAZ.
Op-ed: "Hearing the other
voices in Colombia" - by Dee Aker and Elena McCollim - San
Diego Union-Tribune - January 25, 2009
Dee Aker attended the fourth annual international Catholic Peacebuilding Network Conference, "Creating a Climate for Reconciliation: Opening Space for Truth, Justice and Reconciliation," in Bógota and Medellín Colombia. The conference aim was to improve international awareness and understanding of the key role the Catholic Church plays in promoting peace in Colombia.
Op-ed: "A Way to Save Lives in Colombia" - by Kevin A. Turner - San Diego Union-Tribune - April 16, 2004
Op-ed: "Expanding scope of violence in Colombia" - by Kevin A. Turner - San Diego Union-Tribune - Oct. 11, 2002