Our Projects

Changing Security Landscapes Viewed from the Margins

Our grounded research and impact activities focus on people-centred security during transitions from war to peace. Our work on army transformation, violent non-state groups, local institutions and trust has produced academic publications, policy briefs, and practitioner capacity building. We have advised senior government and UN officials and supported civil society actors. 

The current uncertainty in Colombia makes our work timelier than ever. Colombia’s new president, inaugurated in August 2018, seeks to modify the Peace Agreement to punish former rebels, at a time when the UN denounce a lack of progress in the peace deal’s implementation. ELN rebels and other violent groups fill power voids left by FARC, whose ex-members are partly re-uniting. Communities are threatened and social leaders killed in their hundreds, while lack of state protection and governance risks increased insecurity from renewed grievances and organised crime.

The aim of this project is to address the consequences of changing security landscapes in transitions from war to peace for security architectures in Colombia, with a special focus on the role of the marginalised communities in this security architectures. 

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Promoting Security and Development across Borders

 To strengthen peace and stability along the Colombia-Venezuela border amidst Colombia’s changing security landscape it is important to recognise distinct configurations among various violent non-state groups (what we call “non-state order”) near and across the border influence security, yielding specific protection challenges. Therefore this CONPEACE  project analyses how the arrival of a large number of Venezuelans exacerbates these challenges. This enables us to provide communities, policymakers, and practitioners with knowledgeable insights and avenues that serve to identify self-protection mechanisms and to develop preventative plans to enhance people-centred security. This potentially facilitates the peace deal implementation and of alleviating the humanitarian crisis along the Colombia-Venezuela border.

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Non-state Order, Trust, and Institutions in Marginalised Spaces

Research has shown that, contrary to intuition, civil war zones often appear fairly orderly. Rebels establish governance systems. The peace process with the FARC in Colombia offers the opportunity to inquire how the changing security landscape affects trust relations in conflict zones. This inquiry builds on an original and innovative conceptualization of the relations between combatants and civilians in civil war, which borrows from sociological theories of trust and confidence. The Fritz-Thyssen-Stiftung project has the ambition to make an original contribution to the scholarship on civil war, the transition from conflict to peace, and governance structures amongst rebels. This project also aims to provide applicable lessons for decision-makers for how to re-integrate marginalised regions (affected by violence) into the democratic order of the Colombian Constitution based on the CONPEACE unique and exclusive data set of interviews from multiple years (prior, during, and after the peace agreement) conducted in Colombia’s conflict area. 

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Ox-Ber: Justice, Peace, and Politics in the Creation of a Lasting Peace in Colombia’s Marginalised Regions

CONPEACE, together with Prof. Sergio Costa of the Freie Universität in Berlin, successfully applied for a seed grant of the Oxford Berlin Research Partnership (Ox-Ber), which provides the opportunity to connect the research capacities of Oxford University’s CONPEACE Programme with the CAPAZ Institute at the Latin America Institute (LAI) at Freie Universität and bundle capacities to deepen the analyses of the Colombian peace process with the FARC. We will first hold a collaborative workshop at the University of Oxford, which serves to facilitate the founding of a long-term research project that, in general terms, explores the transformation of Colombia in the course of the peace process with the FARC, and, specifically, focuses on the ramifications of the transitional justice process on (violent and political) actors in Colombia. We strive to embed our findings in a comparative framework, suitable for generalizations and hypothesis generating.

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