Colombia is the most recent and ambitious example of an effort to peacefully end armed conflict through negotiation. The rigorous format of the process, the incorporation of local and international lessons learned, and the transformative aspirations of the final accord reached between the government and the FARC rebels have turned the country into a laboratory and global reference in terms of process design, disarmament, transitional justice, and more.
IFIT has accompanied the peace process firsthand almost since its inception.
In 2012, IFIT organised an influential amicus brief, successfully intervening before the Constitutional Court on the question of the future political participation of FARC combatants. Later, through its executive director, IFIT played a unique first-hand role inside the peace talks, working in Havana as the international expert advisor to the Colombian government delegation during the 18 months of the negotiation of victims’ issues with the FARC rebel group, which culminated in a transitional justice accord in December 2015.
As the peace talks came to a close, IFIT went a step further. In an effort to ensure that the firsthand knowledge acquired during the negotiations would remain organised and available during the implementation phase, IFIT created the Brain Trust for the Colombian Transition: a unique platform of 16 expert advisors who played key roles during the Havana talks. Since its creation, the Brain Trust has become a major voice of political and civic dialogue and a trusted resource for policy analysis and advice on issues related to the peace accord and its implementation. By its mere existence, it helps avoid the typical dispersion of institutional memory and knowledge when a negotiation ends and a peacebuilding phase begins.
In 2020, IFIT innovated further by creating a sub-national Territorial Trust of peace implementation actors who can complement and collaborate with the national Brain Trust. The Territorial Trust comprises 11 recognised local leaders from regions prioritised for peace deal implementation and where the conflict has been constantly present for decades. Its addition to IFIT’s peacebuilding work in Colombia allows for a unique combination of top-down and bottom-up approaches, linking very diverse regions of Colombia with each other, and connecting local decision makers with national ones.
Our Brain Trusts in Colombia
National Brain Trust
IFIT’s Brain Trust for the Colombian Transition (“Fondo de Capital Humano para la Transición Colombiana”) aims to ensure that the wealth of knowledge acquired during the Colombian peace talks remains available, organised and actively engaged during the transition out of conflict. Comprised of fifteen multidisciplinary Colombian experts and advisers who played a direct and major role in the negotiations in Havana, the Brain Trust helps avoid the typical dispersion of institutional memory and knowledge when a negotiation ends and a peacebuilding phase begins. Working alone and in conjunction with IFIT’s Territorial Trust, it actively identifies areas of minimal consensus on peacebuilding across all major sectors in order to generate an environment of trust that can lead to a stable and lasting peace in Colombia. The Brain Trust also provides independent expert analysis about the Colombian experience to other countries attempting to achieve transitions out of armed conflict.
Territorial Brain Trust
In 2020, IFIT established the Territorial Trust: a group of 11 recognised peace implementation leaders from the regions most affected by the Colombian armed conflict. This bottom-up brain trust informs and advises key decision-makers at the local level (as local policymakers often do not have the expertise to incorporate peacebuilding provisions in their local development plans) and national level (as national policymakers usually lack the context-based knowledge necessary to correctly design the measures that would best serve peace implementation). The Territorial Trust also empowers the group’s own members, raising their profile at the national level and facilitating networking and access to expert knowledge that would otherwise be difficult to access.
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