"Colombia's Changing Security Landscape Viewed form the Margins"
CONPEACE Cross-Stakeholder Forum
15 October 09:00
Nuffield College, University of Oxford
The University of Oxford’s Changing Character of War Centre hosted a forum that gathered policymakers, social leaders, academics and representatives from international organizations at Nuffield College to discuss the changing security landscape in Colombia. The Peace Accords signed between the Colombian government and the FARC in 2016 were the starting point for a transition from war to peace in the territories previously controlled by this non-state armed group. These conflict zones continue to be characterized by ongoing disputes between armed groups, illegal trade, illicit crops, and unregulated migration. The resulting social, economic, and political uncertainties shine a light on the efforts done by the state to make presence in the frontier territories, as well as the improvements that can be done on the projects implemented by the government.
One of the main purposes of CONPEACE is to acknowledge the active role of local communities and their leaders as ‘architects of peace’ in Colombia’s peacebuilding process. Conversations during the Forum therefore highlighted the active role of these communities in their development or self-protection initiatives and mechanisms. These local leaders expressed a desire for an opportunity to exchange these initiatives with others in similar contexts. The forum, therefore enhanced the role of the local processes shared by its representatives (Tumaco, Cúcuta, Fortul, San Miguel) reinforcing the importance of the particularities of the conflict zones, and how they can be complemented with academic, international organization, and policymakers’ perspectives.
The Forum is part of an ongoing discussion about the consolidation of a people-centred understanding of Colombia’s changing security landscape. Feedback from the different institutions involved in the Forum highlighted that this space was a positive scenario in which to engage in safe discussions about the local perception of security. These institutions further recognized that the CONPEACE project has the unique ability to connect marginalized voices to national and global debates about security, and contribute by suggesting changes and evaluating previous interventions from organizations.
Conventional reports and studies examine and analyse the dynamics of armed conflict in Colombia at the national and regional level. During the Forum, however, members of civil society, international organizations, academics, and policymakers concluded that these analyses could be amplified and better nuanced through the application of a lens that also includes community and individual level efforts to create security.