Humanitarian Action During Transition: Lessons from Colombia

Over 50 years of internal armed conflict, along with urban violence, have fueled a persistent humanitarian crisis in Colombia. Approximately 12% of the population (5.7 million people) is internally displaced, and many people are dually affected by waves of intensifying conflict and natural disasters, such as flooding. Furthermore, organized crime, persistent human rights abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law in conflict-affected communities, including sexual and gender-based violence and the recruitment of child soldiers, have taken a heavy toll on the civilian population.

Peace efforts between the government and various armed groups have proceeded since the 1990s with incremental success but have not yet brought the conflict to an end. In particular, since 2012, the government and representatives from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, have been engaging in peace talks, though violence has escalated in recent months. As a consequence, humanitarian professionals engaged in Colombia find themselves operating in a context where the government and rebel groups are negotiating over a number of transitional measures — e.g., restitution programs, land and institutional reforms, and transitional justice efforts in the form of either a truth commission or criminal prosecutions — that could significantly affect the humanitarian situation in the country. 

Through discussions with high-level practitioners working in this context, this podcast will examine the impact of the ongoing peace process on key humanitarian issues, including conflict-induced displacement, weapons proliferation, and child protection.

May, 2015