The Santos-FARC peace talks: A Colombian liberal peace?
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 the peacebuilding, security and armed conflict 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). Most of the scholars met last October in a conference convened by Par Engstrom and Andrei Gomez-Suarez at UCL Institute of the Americas. The outcome of the conference was a policy brief, which has been circulated amongst the negotiation teams in Cuba and the broader Colombian public.
As a result of the initiative of several of the scholars, an academic working group has been established, which will consistently follow the developments of the Santos-FARC peace talks with the aim of shaping public policy, supporting civil society’s role in the process and formulated academically and policy relevant research projects. Until now the talks have been a very dynamic process. While FARC spokespersons regularly eschew the identification of a date for the signing of the final peace agreement, and thus bringing closure to the armed conflict formally, President Santos continuously reinforces the need for a quick fix solution. In his public addresses to the nation, President Santos stated that the talks should come to an end before November 2013. This pressing chronological parameter, 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, Colombianists 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.
The event will 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: agrarian 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 questions: (1) what has it been agreed so far and how do these decisions augur for peace in Colombia? (2) What have been the principal strengths and weaknesses of the peace process and what impact might the process have beyond the signing of the agreement? (3) What are the strategic initiatives that the working group should identify and develop in the short and medium term?
These broad questions would allow participants from a variety of 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 challenging issues. Of critical importance is the formulation then of an inter-disciplinary approach to peacebuilding in Colombia that seeks to comprehend how the process is represented, its impact upon political discourses, the role of distinct actors, including national actors (political, military, spoilers, business elites, civil society) and international actors and the potential long-term impact of the peace process. Of important significance to both the policy and academic communities is the fact that the working group will engage with a fundamental question of growing relevance to the scholarship and practitioner field of peace and conflict studies: can the process be sustainable and (does it address the causes of conflict) or are the peace talks another instance of ‘flat-packed’ Liberal Peace?
There are a limited number of places available: register here