Summary of Sussex Workshop (12 April 2013): “In Search of Peace in Colombia – Unwrapping the Santos-FARC Peace Talks”



Half-day workshop

12 April 2013

Sussex Centre for Conflict and Security Research

University of Sussex

The programme with speakers’ biographies is available here.

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 of formulating academically robust and policy relevant research projects, as well as offering 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 tothe 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 the 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.

By the time the workshop takes place on 12 April 2013, 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 understanding (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?

Convened by:

Dr Andrei Gomez-Suarez

Sponsored by the Sussex Centre for Conflict and Security Research


13.00 – 13.15 Registration (Coffee) Foyer
13.15 – 13.30 Welcome: Jan Selby/Andrei Gomez-Suarez Lecture Theatre B
13.30 – 15.00 Panel 1: Land, Crime, and ElitesChair: Jan SelbyGrace Livingstone

The Land Issue: what has been achieved and what are the challenges ahead? (summary)

Markus Schultze-Kraft

Organized crime and the prospects of war and peace in Colombia

Jenny Pearce

The role of Elites in Peace Processes in Colombia (summary)

Lecture Theatre B
15.00 – 15.20 Coffee break Foyer
15.20-16.50  Panel 2: Regions, Media and Geopolitics Chair: John DewRoddy Brett

Regional Civil Society organisations and the Peace Process (abstract)

Nick Morgan

Media and representations of the Peace Process (abstract)

Andrei Gomez-Suarez

The geopolitics of the Santos-FARC peace talks (abstract)

Room 104
16.50-17.10 Coffee break Foyer


Panel 3: Civil Society’s Initiatives: Integrating collective efforts to support peaceChair: Charlotte MellyMiguel Puerto

Building a Permanent Platform for Peace: The case of La Mesa Permanente por la Paz in the UK and Europe

Francy Carranza

Building a social network to support Peace: The case of Rodeemos el Diálogo in the UK


Building an academic group to support Peace

Lecture Theatre B
18.30-20.00 Drinks Reception Social Space

2 thoughts on “Summary of Sussex Workshop (12 April 2013): “In Search of Peace in Colombia – Unwrapping the Santos-FARC Peace Talks”

  1. We plan to publish them individually in different journals. We will update publication details as they are coming coming out.

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