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Maria José Ochoa

The Peace Accord signed between the Congress of Colombia and Colombia’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), means that FARC will no longer be a stakeholder in the conflict which has wreaked havoc for the better part of the century. With 162,776 disappearances, 6.8 million people displaced, and 32,300 kidnappings, this armed conflict has been haunting the lives of Colombians for the past 60 years. Despite the fact that this agreement removes one of the most important group of combatants, if the key structural causes of conflict are not properly addressed, this conflict will not end. Instead, it will transform into a new, and possibly equally deadly, problem.

It is irrefutable that the country and its people are facing critically pivotal times.

If the Colombian people are to progress as a Nation, it is necessary for them to collectively look back and identify the root causes of the conflict which has brought such a toll on them today. After identifying the systems of structural violence, they must look forward together, as a society, to seek ways to resolve the key issues in order to be able to truly achieve long lasting peace.

Sociologist Johan Galtung defines Structural Violence as the non-satisfaction of basic human needs which he identifies as survival, well-being, identity, freedom, economic, political, social and even cultural needs as constituents. This concept played a key role in sparking the armed conflict in Colombia, and not only in the past 60 years, but dating back to the Spanish occupation of Nueva Granada. La Violencia, La Guerra de los Mil Días, the Civil War of the 1860s, and their very own War of Independence are just some of the conflicts caused by structural violence which have dyed the land red throughout Colombia’s 200-year history. It was the systematic detainment of these specific needs from the Colombian people by Colombian society itself, that created the vacuum from which conflict rose. This, along with the common misconception that peace is the absence of war, is what is generating fear, discomfort, and tension about what lies ahead.

In the process of peacebuilding, public-private partnerships will prove to be key in the reinsertion of combatants to civil society. A recent study conducted by Harvard University and USAID on integral reparation measures highlights that “the dimensions and the complexity of the reparation process exceed the economic and administrative capacities of the government, subsequently is it likely to emerge possible future problems in terms of the size of the expectations and the difficulty of complying with them.”

Peacebuilding processes need to have a multidimensional reach in order to be successful. Therefore, this type of partnerships will provide the necessary tools to articulate and direct resources to maximize impact and change. Public-private partnerships are a key determinant of success given that both sectors pool together the resources, expertise, and services of the private and public sectors, allowing for a greater potential for change. It is precisely because of this effective collaboration that the agencies working with the reconciliation process must find innovative ways to build this type of partnership, to ensure the success of the peace process.

As discussed during our recent Concordia Americas Summit in Bogotá, the effective and strategic establishment of P3´s will provide unprecedented opportunities for the victims of structural violence in Colombia. This will act as a catalyst in improving conditions for impact investing, and ensure that the conflict does not mutate into a new one, but rather, ceases to exist.

Concordia looks forward to continuing the dialogue on post-conflict reconciliation and peacemaking in Colombia during its upcoming 2017 Annual Summit to be held in New York City September 18-19th.