Our Projects

Transitions and Social Cohesion in Context of Multiple Crises

CONPEACE expands its successful cooperation with Freie Universität Berlin's Institute for Latin American Studies.

Together with Prof Sérgio Costa and Dr Jan Boesten, the CONPEACE team has set up a cooperation group of the Berlin University Alliance/University of Oxford Centre for Advanced Studies (Grand Challenge Initiative Social Cohesion).

The researchers involved examine social cohesion in contexts of multiple crises in Latin America's borderlands, including Colombia's conflictive border to Venezuela. 

Colombian Lessons? Assessing the Practical and Normative Consequences of Latin American South-South Security Cooperation

This collaborative research project directed by Prof Markus-Michael Müller (Roskilde University) and CONPEACE Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Markus Hochmüller offers the first systematic analysis of the practical and normative consequences of South-South Security Cooperation in Latin America. It explores the transfer of “lessons learned” by Latin America’s most important security-exporting country, Colombia. By focusing on the role of local agency in two recipient countries, the project assesses the effectiveness, empirical legitimacy, and local impact of these new modes of South-South Cooperation (SSC) within the field of Latin American security governance. Given the violent nature of the region’s democratic orders, the project explores the consequences of security-driven SSC for the rule of law and the democratic quality of security provision in recipient countries. Based on multi-sited fieldwork (interviews and participant observation) and the analysis of key security documents, the project examines how Colombian police and military training as a horizontal mode of cooperation changes doctrinal and operational features of security governance in recipient countries, how local security actors translate, appropriate, modify, or contest the Colombian expertise, and to what normative effect.

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.