12 April (Sussex): In Search of Peace in Colombia – Unwrapping the Santos-FARC Peace Talks

Friday 12 April
13:00 until 18:00
University of Sussex

This half-day event aims to consolidate a group of UK-based Latin America scholars concerned with Colombia and, specifically, with the present peace process between the Colombian Government of Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP).

As the result of collaboration between several scholars, an academic working group (British Academics for a Colombia Under Peace – BACUP) has been established, which will consistently follow the developments of the Santos-FARC peace talks with the aim to formulate academically robust and policy relevant research projects, as well as to offer suggestions for  civil society’s constructive role in the process. Until now the talks have been a very dynamic process. While FARC spokespersons regularly eschew the identification of a date for the signing of a final peace agreement, which could bring about a formal end the armed conflict, President Santos continuously reinforces the need for a quick fix solution. President Santos has stated that the talks should come to an end before November 2013. Moreover, after visiting Havana in March, the Head of Colombian Senate stated that Congress is asking the negotiation teams to reach an agreement by August 2013.

This time pressure, linked to the Colombian electoral cycle, reinforces the importance of the working group. With timely academic interventions the group could offer a non-partisan view to shed light on some of the obstacles that the peace talks face. In particular, Colombian experts in the group are able to offer profound knowledge and experience of the country, whilst other members of the group offer comparative experience of peace processes in other Latin American contexts.

This event is scheduled to take place on 12 April 2013. By then, according to the peace agenda, the talks should already have reached an agreement on one of the thorniest issues for Colombian society: access to land and rural development. Consequently, the group should be able to offer an interesting perspective on the process thus far, whilst at the same time being able to analyse the prospective trajectory of the talks.

 The event will be structured around the three following panels: (1) Land, Crime, and Elites (2) Regions, Media, and Geopolitics (3) Civil Society Initiatives: integrating collective efforts to support peace

These broad panels will allow participants from a variety of academic and policy backgrounds, including International Relations, Latin American Studies, Peace and Conflict Resolution, Political Science, Human Rights, International Development, and Critical Security Studies, to elaborate on a series of key challenges the peace talks face. The formulation of an inter-disciplinary approach is key to understand (a) how the peace process is represented; (b) its impacts upon political discourses; (c) what roles different state and non-state, legal and illegal-criminal and domestic and international actors play (i.e., political, military, spoilers, business elites, criminal organizations, civil society); and (d) what the peace talks’ potential long-term impact could be in Colombia. Of particular significance to both the policy and academic communities is the fact that the working group will indirectly engage with a set of fundamental questions of growing relevance to the scholarship and practitioner field of peace and conflict studies: To what extent is the Colombian peace process sustainable? In what ways, if any, does it address the root causes of conflict? Are the peace talks a Colombian way of at Liberal Peace?

There are a limited number of places available: register here

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