Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Peacemaking and Mediation in Colombia

Featured Speakers:
Virginia Bouvier, USIP
Leon Valencia, Corporacion Nuevo Arco Iris, Former ELN combatant
Angela Giraldo, Peace Comissioner of Cali
Alberto Lara, Consultant to the UNDP Justice Program
Remy Friedmann, Foreign Ministry of Switzerland
Jennifer Schirmer, USIP

Adam Isacson, CIP

The internal armed conflict in Colombia has been going on for fifty years, creating the largest humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere, and causing the U.S. to make Colombia one of its top recipients of military aid due to the connections between the conflict and the drug trade. USIP brought Colombian, American, and international experts together to discuss solutions and methods for creating peace in a country that has been shaped by conflict. In a conflict of this magnitude, the intervention of the international community is necessary, but should not be taken lightly.

All discussants insisted that peace initiatives must be undertaken on many levels, with attention to civil society, religious communities, women’s groups, the government, and the military. Multi-lateral discussions are the only way that the clash between desires to create peace and to establish justice can be resolved. Also, discussants agreed that the conflict in Colombia is economic as well as ideological, and policy changes must be accompanied by economic development in order to repair the social fabric of the country.

There were several questions and some discussion about the best ways to facilitate conversation and access to information for all of the players in this political landscape, especially with regard to the use of technology as a tool for leveling the playing field. Virginia Bouvier, the moderator of the discussion, was very complimentary of UNDP’s work in Colombia, especially their efforts to develop a “Best Policies Database” and conduct the sort of statistical and critical analysis that will be helpful to others in creating projects within Colombia. Another great resource that was mentioned was Adam Isacson’s blog at http://cipcol.org/. The technological developments of our age offer great opportunities and should not be overlooked as tools for distributing information and ideas.

There were many voices that encouraged the intervention of international bodies for the purposes of conflict resolution and development, but the organizations should operate under a banner of neutrality and with the goal of the inclusion of all groups and voices.

Sponsor/Location: U.S. Institute of Peace

Date: May 23, 2007

Time: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Approximate Number of Attendees: 35

Intern Attending: Margaret Lippitt

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