Regional peacebuilding in Colombia

Participants of the workshop “Capacity building for participation in multi-actor dialogue spaces associated with territorial conflicts of the Bari people”, 2018 in Chinácota. Participants of the workshop “Capacity building for participation in multi-actor dialogue spaces associated with territorial conflicts of the Bari people”, 2018 in Chinácota. Image: Berghof Foundation

Our work accompanied Colombian actors in developing and implementing conflict transformation and peace efforts on different levels, and shares the lessons learnt in order to improve national policies.

Timeframe: 2015 - 2020

Focusing on regional peacebuilding in Colombia, our team and its network have been advising departments and municipalities on better transforming their violent conflict by using existing processes, such as for example, integrating peacebuilding in their regional and local development plans. Our work supports conflict transformation, violence prevention and the implementation of Colombia’s 2016 peace agreement at and from a subnational level. The consortium of Como-Berghof and its team in Colombia has been active in the framework of the German Development Cooperation's ProPaz programme, supporting actors from different sectors and national, regional and local level to better engage for peace.


Conflict setting

Over five decades of armed conflict have left deep traces in Colombian society. The logic of violence has permeated public and private life. At the same time, there has been a multitude of peace initiatives within civil society that work to break with this logic and to achieve the transformations Colombia needs for peace.

Since end 2016, a peace agreement between Government and FARC ended a conflict of over half a century that had claimed over 220,000 victims and six million internally displaced persons. In October 2016, after four years of negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC (formerly for Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, after 2017 stands for Political Party Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común), a referendum on the peace agreement was held. However, the population rejected the peace agreement unexpectedly: numerous demands by various civil-society actors had not been taken into account. Moreover, the turnout in the referendum was very low, so that the peace treaty was rejected by a narrow majority. In the months that followed, various organisations and actors were able to put forward their demands. The peace agreement was revised and signed in a fast-track procedure, without a further referendum.

Since then, the country has been in the implementation phase of the peace agreement. Despite progress made, such as the disarmament of the FARC, the establishment of a truth commission and the amnesty law for former guerilleros and guerilleras, numerous difficulties can be observed, which lead some parts of the population to conclude that the agreement has failed. According to the fourth report on the state of implementation of the Peace Agreement, there have been advances in the active participation of victims, ex-combatants and civil society in the peace construction process. Moreover, the government adopted the PDETs (Programas de Desarrollo con Enfoque Territorial; Development Programmes with a Territorial Focus) for the rural areas in 2017. These development programmes are being implemented in the 170 municipalities most affected by the armed conflict, poverty, illicit economy and institutional weakness. Nevertheless, the implementation is still facing major challenges: In addition to slow progress in many areas of the agreement (e.g. access to important services in rural areas, democratic opening, solutions for the drug problems, food security), 2019 was the deadliest year for ex-combatants. The attacks on and killings of numerous civil society leaders, together with some controversial reforms, provoked a series of mass protests and posed great difficulties for the country.

Besides all these challenges and difficulties, President Duque suspended the peace talks between the government and the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – National Liberation Army) in January 2019 following an attack on a police school in Bogotá. Both parties accused each other of not keeping to the agreements.


Focusing on the concept of paz territorial ("peace from and for the territories"), the regional (i.e. subnational) peacebuilding component of ProPaz has supported actors in conflict transformation, violence prevention and, after the peace agreement, its implementation. One important work stream was to support departmental and municipal administrations in integrating peacebuilding measures into their respective development plans and other governance procedures.

Based on the idea that anchoring peace in all levels of society requires inclusive and participative processes, our team serves as adviser for the development of appropriate spaces and mechanisms of cooperation between different actors – public administration, civil society, the church and the private sector (multi-actor approach). Beyond this horizontal linkage, information exchange and consultation between the national and subnational level ensure that peace policies and processes take sufficient account of regional needs (multi-level approach).

By equipping key actors with a set of methodological tools on conflict-sensitive dialogue, facilitation and planning, we support the diverse actors in jointly planning and implementing peace-related measures in a peace-oriented way. This will play a particularly important role in the upcoming concertation process of the subnational development plans in early 2016, and their implementation in the years ahead.

We drew on our experience from accompanying a pilot project for regional peacebuilding, continuous consultation for GIZ-programme CERCAPAZ, the systematisation of the project SerMacarena, and from our long-term cooperation with Colombian organisations. Our process consulting includes analysis and exploration processes and sensitisation and capacity development interventions.

Aims and outcomes

Our work has clearly strengthened capacities for peacebuilding (relationships, attitudes, structures) on the national, regional and local level. That was, among others, reflected in the participatory development and implementation of subnational development plans and the implementation of their peace-related activities and guidelines peace policies. In this process, state and non-state actors make use of tried and tested methods of conflict-sensitive communication, constructive dialogue and cooperation. Subnational experiences with the implementation of peace policies were fed back to the national level and informednational guidelines and public policies.

Target groups

The team’s work addressed Colombian governments at all levels (national, departmental and local). The governments of Meta, Norte de Santander and Caquetá, and civil society organisations, the National Planning Department, the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace and the Ministry of Post-Conflict have been important partners in the implementation of this endeavour and will benefit from institutional strengthening and advice on policy implementation.


The initially two programme regions Meta and Norte de Santander, and as of 2019 Caquetá, are characterised by a combination of a strong presence of armed actors and a low presence of the state. They have been heavily impacted by the armed conflict and in Norte de Santander armed confrontations persist to this day. Given the precarious security situation, an abundance of natural resources and the regions' strategic location, they serve as exemplary regions for the preparation of the post-agreement phase. The activities there are complemented by accompanying the national institutions responsible for peacebuilding in their shaping and adapting of guidelines for regional implementation.

Partners and funding

The Berghof Foundation has been implementing the GIZ ProPaz component in partnership with Como Consult. The programme component cooperates with the Colombian National Planning Department, the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace, the Ministry of Post-Conflict, the departmental and municipal governments and civil society organisations.

The political partner of the German Development Cooperation is the Colombian Presidential Agency for International Cooperation (APC).


The activities of the team have been multifaceted: at national level, the team mainly provided advisory services. The strategy was to promote three aspects: conflict transformation, mainly through dialogue, violence prevention from a systemic approach, and support to the implementation of the peace agreement.

For example, it advised the Ministry of the Interior on the pedagogical dissemination of the plans for civil security and peaceful coexistence (PISCC), the National Planning Department (DNP), the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace (OACP) and the Ministry for Post-Conflict on strategy development and the development of guidelines for the integration of peace development issues and approaches into the development plans of the intervention regions.

At the regional level, the team provided support for the planning, preparation and implementation of the PDET measures, assisted in the preparation and implementation of local development plans by building dialogue platforms and capacities in the field of violence prevention and conflict transformation, and advised on the implementation of the peace agreement. By combining the systemic approach to violence prevention and remembrance work, sustainable capacities were built up through sport with principles and forum theatre, for example at the University of UFPSO, which has since been offering courses and online diplomas in the field of systemic approach to violence prevention and the design of multi-stakeholder dialogues. The team also helped to facilitate initial dialogues between the Barí indigenous people and the Catatumbo farmers' association.

Some examples of the team’s work:

September 2017 – Toolbox for local dialogue facilitation

The Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and the guerrilla movement FARC provides for the establishment of special development programs with a territorial approach (PDET) for regions most affected by the conflict. To ensure a wider participation in identifying visions and actions for these plans, the newly set up Territorial Renovation Agency (ART) assigned facilitation leaders to design and facilitate multi-actor and multi-level dialogues. To guide their work, a toolbox had been developed by ART with the advice of our team and the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace of the Colombian Government. The toolbox was first shared with all members of the newly created Facilitators’ Network at a reflection and training event on principles and tools of dialogue at the local level that took place in Bogotá on September 15-16.

May 2017 – Strategy workshop on regional development

Como-Berghof’s Andrés Home co-facilitated a strategy workshop with regional coordinators and the national office of Colombia’s Territorial Renovation Agency (ART). This agency is tasked with implementing rural development, a key element of the Peace Accord, through a process of participatory development of PDETs (Development plans with a territorial focus) in 16 subregions of Colombia.

November 2015 – Kick-off meeting for planning in Bogotá

In November 2015, the team and its partners held a kick-off meeting for planning in Bogotá, with regional governments and civil society actors from the programme regions and the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace, the Ministry of Post-Conflict and the National Planning Department.

September 2015 – Team “regional peacebuilding“ of Consortium Como-Berghof takes up work

On 23 September 2015, the component team, together with Uta Giebel from Como Consult and Barbara Unger from the Berghof Foundation, furthered the component's conceptualisation and operationalisation of regional peacebuilding. The advances of these working sessions were then shared with the whole programme team of ProPaz.

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Updates from this work:

Publications 2020
Publications 2019
Publications 2018
Publications 2017
Publications 2016



Project lead

Barbara Unger
Head of Unit
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Team members

Fabian González Neumann


Media contact

Florian Lüdtke
Media and Communications Manager
+49 (0) 177 7052758
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