For over fifty years Colombia has suffered an armed conflict that has subsumed a vast range of social conflicts. This context forced people in rural areas to look for mechanisms to resolve issues that were neither addressed by the State nor by those armed groups who controlled certain areas of the country. Many communities became highly organized, be it in the form of communal councils (Juntas de Acción Comunal), grassroots organizations, or wide networks and platforms. These organizations have developed their own forms of mediation as immediate response to conflicts in their geographical areas. Given the legitimacy those ‘mediators’ have gained over time, they remain key actors in the dawning post-agreement phase. The signature and implementation of the peace deal between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) can become a precious opportunity to shed light on those social conflicts marginalized by the war and to address those that may emerge in the post-agreement context.
For the Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular (Cinep), this new context is an opportunity to establish new forms to relate and interact with state institutions. It also brings a social responsibility to accompany the implementation of the peace deal in the communities by means of monitoring, the denunciation of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, the support to land restitution processes, the backing of grassroots organizations in their peacebuilding efforts and, in particular, the development of alternative mechanisms of conflict resolution (dialogue, mediation) as new form to engage for actors who are used to violent relationships.
Cinep is working with communities to support their efforts to mediate local but also regional conflicts. These activities include the strengthening of existing capacities, strategizing for concrete interventions as well as the linking with other actors.