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Colombia

In November 2016 the government and FARC rebels signed an agreement ending five decades of guerrilla war. To consolidate this achievement, the state must redress the inequalities that sustained that conflict as well as make peace with Colombia’s last major insurgency, the ELN. Crisis Group has worked on Colombia’s conflicts since 2002, publishing over 40 reports and briefings and meeting hundreds of times with all parties in support of inclusive peace efforts. We monitor the FARC deal’s progress and carry out field research on issues ranging from ELN talks to drug trafficking to Colombia’s relations with its troubled neighbour, Venezuela. 

CrisisWatch Colombia

Unchanged Situation

Political violence continued in lead-up to local elections, while attacks on community leaders by armed groups remained at high level. In 27 Oct local elections, ruling Democratic Centre party failed to make gains, with significant victories by left-leaning Green Party and local coalitions; former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) combatant won mayoral seat in Turbaco, Bolívar. Govt deployed 60,000 soldiers to guard polls amid concerns over possible violence, particularly longstanding conflict regions in Pacific, Bajo Cauca and near Venezuelan border; election day passed without violence, though reports of vote-buying in some areas prior to vote. Ahead of poll, violence included shooting of vehicle transporting mayoral candidate for Toledo, Norte de Santander (north east) 19 Oct; at least 22 mayoral candidates killed in year leading up to vote. Intimidation and violence against social leaders and activists continued, including by armed groups apparently seeking to use their land for illicit economic activity; three indigenous leaders assassinated in La Guajira (north), Nariño (south west) and Quindío (west) mid-Oct; FARC dissidents 29 Oct killed four members of Nasa indigenous guard and indigenous governor in Tacueyo reserve, Cauca (south west). UN 5 Oct reported threats by National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas and clashes between ELN and Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (country’s main drug trafficking group) displaced 47 families in Alto Baudó, Chocó (west). Congress 18 Oct approved funding of transitional justice mechanism Special Jurisdiction for Peace through 2020 despite controversy over the court. Head of UN mission 10 Oct told UN Security Council (UNSC) that demobilisation of FARC forces continued to demonstrate results; however UN reported 52 assassinations of former FARC combatants in 2019. UNSC 15 Oct reiterated “full and unanimous support” for implementation of 2016 peace deal but highlighted concerns over violence against political candidates, activists and demobilised FARC members. Govt 21 Oct issued decree requiring FARC to hand over economic proceeds from conflict by 31 Dec; although transfer agreed in 2016 accord, FARC called deadline “new attack on peace”.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

1 Nov 2019
The string of assassinations of indigenous leaders in Cauca illustrates some of the fundamental tensions at the center of the debate about protection for human rights defenders in Colombia. Twitter

Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
8 Aug 2019
As long as each side [in Venezuela] pursues a winner-take-all approach, they are less willing to make concessions and a deal will remain elusive. Associated Press

Phil Gunson

Senior Analyst, Andes
5 Jul 2019
A former FARC negotiator and member of its Central High Command, alias Jesús Santrich, abandoned his security detail on Saturday night and has since gone missing. Who is he, why is there talk of scandal and what does this mean for Colombia’s peace process? A thread Twitter

Kyle Johnson

Former Senior Analyst, Colombia
29 Jun 2018
It’s essential that the state will take responsibility for [FARC fighters] basic needs so that they can become an integrated part of Colombian society. [The healthcare issue] raises the fundamental question that goes through the whole implementation of the peace process, which is: how much has the Colombian state oversold itself? News Deeply

Ivan Briscoe

Program Director, Latin America and Caribbean
25 Mar 2018
El Eln [colombiano] estuvo en consultas internas hasta el martes pasado y si en esas reuniones acordaron hacer un desescalamiento podríamos estarlo viendo en este momento. Vanguardia

Kyle Johnson

Former Senior Analyst, Colombia
13 Mar 2018
Increased prices can be charged to [Venezuelan] migrants because of their sheer desire to cross [the border to reach Colombia]. IRIN

Ivan Briscoe

Program Director, Latin America and Caribbean

Latest Updates

Building Trust in Colombia’s Hub of Coca and Conflict

Two years ago, Crisis Group found that major threats to Colombia’s peace process with former guerrillas all intersect in the Pacific coastal district of Tumaco. Our Colombia analyst Kyle Johnson made it his mission to find out more.

Also available in Español

Crucial Reforms Languish as Colombia Seeks to Consolidate Peace

Colombia’s fragile peace is threatened by rural violence and the humanitarian burden of hosting Venezuelan refugees. In this excerpt from its Watch List 2019 – Second Update, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to sustain strong support for the implementation of the 2016 peace accords. 

Also available in Español
EU Watch List / Global

Watch List 2019 – Second Update

Watch List Updates complement International Crisis Group’s annual Watch List, most recently published in January 2019. These early-warning publications identify major conflict situations in which prompt action, driven or supported by the European Union and its member states, would generate stronger prospects for peace. The second update to the Watch List 2019 includes entries on Colombia, Ethiopia, Iran and Libya.

Bogotá Bomb Shatters Peace Talks with Colombia’s Last Guerrillas

After Bogotá’s deadliest bombing since 2003, the government is likely to crack down hard on Colombia’s last guerrilla group, the ELN. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Colombia Kyle Johnson says any new military campaign should distinguish between ELN factions and is unlikely to inflict a lasting defeat on the rebels.

Also available in Español
EU Watch List / Global

Watch List 2018 – Third Update

Crisis Group’s third update to our Watch List 2018 includes entries on economic reforms in Libya, preserving the fragile quiet in Syria’s Idlib province, addressing the plight of civilians in eastern Ukraine, supporting Colombia's uneasy peace process and averting violence in Nigeria's upcoming elections. This annual early-warning report identifies conflict situations in which prompt action by the European Union and its member states would generate stronger prospects for peace.

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Elizabeth Dickinson

Senior Analyst, Colombia
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