The Post-Conflict: Challenges and opportunities for Colombia

The Post-Conflict: Challenges and opportunities for Colombia

It is about using this historical moment to turn Colombia into what it should be: a country where the same law applies to everybody and where the Government protects us all.

Rafael Pardo
Economist, Former Minister of Labor and Former Mayor of Bogota

Colombia is facing the biggest challenge ever since the Thousand Days’ War, over 110 years ago. We need to build post-conflict Colombia. This is our greatest challenge and our greatest opportunity as well.
To understand the scope of this, we have to define, firstly, what we expect as a society once the conflict that has paralyzed, polarized and blocked the potential of our country has been overcome.

What should we understand about post-conflict Colombia?
Post-conflict Colombia goes beyond complying with the agreements entered into with the FARC. The end of the armed conflict will help Colombia focus its efforts on strengthening the institutions responsible for upholding justice and providing the social services that citizens demand and deserve. This way, we can focus on economic and social development. Social discussion will rise – as it should in a democracy – and we will have to instill citizens with a good dose of reconciliation and propensity for democratic tolerance in order to manage and overcome the new social conflicts of the 21st century experienced throughout the world. It is about using this historical moment to turn Colombia into what it should be: a country where the same law applies to everybody and where the Government, while exercising our rights, protects us all. A safe Colombia, with justice.

A country of solidarity, where progress, education, service opportunities do not depend on the region we live in or on the level of conflict. An integrated Colombia. A country where there are opportunities to work and thrive legally and safely throughout its geographic area. A Colombia of progress. A country where there is no fear; where we are always free to say what we think and be heard and taken into account. A more democratic and inclusive Colombia. A country where the Government fulfills its obligations; and where everybody receives the same quality of education and health. A modern Colombia. This is the actual post-conflict agenda; ambitious but realistic; transforming but reforming; local and specific but relying on national support and ambition.

In short, the post-conflict Colombia will be a Colombia where law applies to everybody; where rights are guaranteed; where obligations are fulfilled. In this context, the Ministry for PostConflict, Human Rights and Security has a guiding, coordination and execution role in connection with actions, policies and programs focused on the building process of a Nation, where respect for its citizens’ rights and obligations allows for the peaceful development of society across the country:

1. Effective government presence

a. Security: Guarantee that the end of the conflict represents more security and peace for everybody.

b. Democracy and participation: Overcoming the conflict logics means opening the possibility to respectfully participate and be heard in order to solve the community issues.

c. Actual access to services: Health, timely and quality education, must be the objective.

2. Promotion of a new economy:

a. Generation of local entrepreneurship opportunities

b. Infrastructure for development

c. New investors

3. Promote reconciliation and respect for cohabitation and solidarity standards among Colombians.

By executive order, the Ministry will also monitor the correct implementation of peace agreements. It is important to highlight that this implementation activity will be carried out in the context of the three work themes above. This activity is not a program or a plan, but an agenda. It is a transformation agenda so that all Colombians may enjoy and make the most out of peace for welfare, quality of life, peacefulness and enjoyment of our rights. But this is not an agenda of promises and announcements. This is an agenda of specific milestones, stages, plans, and programs for peace and post-conflict to become a reality; felt and experienced by all Colombians.

To execute this agenda, we have a short-term plan; medium-term plans; and a long-term plan.
In the short term, we have started the Rapid Response Strategy, which is a set of measures for justice, development, governance and public security with a material effect on the territories. We do not want this strategy to become a “set of measures” defined in Bogotá. It is rather a series of interventions to mitigate conflicts, create a more accessible State in areas where it has been historically frail and promote early victories that may help improve our fellow Colombians’ quality of life. This strategy includes projects such as:

1) Demining operations in the most affected municipalities;

2) Support income generation in rural areas by extending credit facilities;

3) Tertiary road maintenance;

4) Strengthen the abilities of Community Action Boards;

5) Extension of formal and alternative justice services, in order for scattered rural area citizens to receive more assistance in conflict settlement;

6) Increase access to state benefits and registration services;

7) Create public security community agendas;

8) Focus on reparation of victims;

or 9) Strengthen the abilities to deal with domestic violence situations.

The stated actions are not intended to be independent. We must try to create synergy so that each activity promotes post-conflict values, such as participation, cohabitation, reconciliation, and sustainability. This is why this pressing need, what we need to accomplish through the twelve months to come, is directly related to what we, as a country, want to be in 10 years.

We will only reach good port if we have a good start. This next 12 month period is the seed of a country that has left division and antagonism behind, and is moving together and full of solidarity, even to settle its differences and conflicts. This is why, with our sights set on our children’s future, we will work for better days for all of us.

Post-conflict is a reality today. I encourage you to work – just like García Márquez dreamt of – to build “a new and sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness will be possible, where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second chance on earth.” Let’s do it!

 

This article is part of the “Giving Peace a Chance” feature.

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