Colombia’s post-conflict transition: five challenges


The Colombian case breaks all previous patterns and will surely become a model for overcoming non-international armed conflicts, argues Jean Carlo Mejía, a university professor and independent advisor and consultant in international law, transitional justice, military and security sector reform, human rights and humanitarian law.

Colombia is currently setting up a new, innovative and unique system of justice for its transition, based on two precepts: first, the enforcement of a constitutional framework (a legal-political framework for peace), and second, the dialogue with the main armed group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC), outside the existing law of the country (negotiating table horizontality), he writes for Open Democracy.

There are five key challenges regarding the security sector and the security system – depending on whether you follow the UN or the OECD position on military transitions – which have to do with the understanding and the scale of the institutional reforms in the Ministry of Defense, the military and the police:

  • Understanding the difference between the performance of the Colombian Armed Forces and that of the armed forces in other countries where there have been expressions of structural violence as a result of authoritarianism or civil war;
  • Understanding the processes of institutional transformation and their evolution, and balancing them with the recommendations from the Commission on Clarifying the Truth;
  • Understanding from international experiences the failures in military and police transitions and their effects on security;
  • Analysing the international standards in non-repetition guarantees that may be applicable to the military and police transition in Colombia;
  • Redefining the roles, the functions and the mission of the armed forces and the police in a complex multi-criminality context.

According to a recent bipartisan report from the Hoover Institution, Plan Colombia provides an example of how, the United States “can best improve the security capacity of weak states by fostering confederal and consociational structures.”


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