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  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Whether the National Liberation Army (ELN) joins the current peace process is one of the biggest uncertainties around Colombia's historic opportunity to end decades of deadly conflict. Exploratory contacts continue, and pressure to advance decisively is growing, as the Havana negotiations with the larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) approach a decisive point. However, hopes fresh negotiations with the second insurgency were imminent were repeatedly dashed in 2013. Agreeing on an agenda and procedures that satisfy the ELN and are consistent with the Havana frame-work will not be easy. The ELN thinks the government needs to make an overture or risk ongoing conflict; the government believes the ELN must show flexibility or risk being left out. But delay is in neither's long-term interest. A process from which the ELN is missing or to which it comes late would lack an essential element for the construction of sustainable peace. Both sides, therefore, should shift gears to open negotiations soonest, without waiting for a perfect alignment of stars in the long 2014 electoral season.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Treaties and Agreements, War on Drugs, Insurgency, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The 1996 peace accords formally ended Guatemala's civil war but failure to address the conflict's root causes and dismantle clandestine security apparatuses has weakened its institutions and opened the door to skyrocketing violent crime. Guatemala is one of the world's most dangerous countries, with some 6,500 murders in 2009, more than the average yearly killings during the civil war and roughly twice Mexico's homicide rate. Under heavy pressure at home, Mexican drug traffickers have moved into Guatemala to compete for control of Andean cocaine transiting to the U.S. The UN-sanctioned International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) has brought hope by making some progress at getting a handle on high-level corruption. However, in June 2010 its Spanish director, Carlos Castresana, resigned saying the government had not kept its promise to support CICIG's work and reform the justice system. President Álvaro Colom needs to consolidate recent gains with institutional reform, anti-corruption measures, vetting mechanisms and a more inclusive political approach, including to indigenous peoples.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Crime
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Juan Manuel Santos, in office since 7 August 2010, has an opportunity to end Colombia's generations of armed conflict by building on but adjusting and substantially broadening the strategy followed for eight years by his predecessor. Alvaro Uribe's predominantly military approach–the “democratic security policy”–did produce important security gains, but Colombia remains plagued by new illegal armed groups (NIAGs) and other criminal actors. By concentrating mainly on fighting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), it neglected other sources of violence and, most importantly, failed to address underlying causes of the conflict. Santos, who was elected with the largest majority in history, should use his political capital to implement a more integrated conflict resolution strategy that advances institutional and structural reforms needed to address illegality and impunity, expand access to services and tackle issues of land and victims' rights.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Almost six years of intense security operations against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) by the administration of President Álvaro Uribe are beginning to produce tangible results. Government forces killed several important rebel field commanders in 2007 and two members of the central command in March 2008, including second-in-command Raúl Reyes, and have severely disrupted insurgent communications, prompting a loss of internal cohesion and decreasing illegal revenues. However, this progress has come at the cost of severely deteriorating relations with Ecuador and Venezuela and increased risk of political isolation after the controversial bombing raid on Reyes's camp inside Ecuador. Military gains can pay off only if combined with a political strategy that consistently pursues a swap of imprisoned insurgents for hostages in FARC captivity, reestablishes much needed working relations with neighbours along borders and strongly advances integrated rural development to consolidate security and broaden Colombia's international support.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Security, Politics, Regional Cooperation, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America, Central America, Venezuela
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Coca leaf and cocaine production in the Andean region appear to have set new records in 2007. Cocaine trafficking and use are expanding across the Americas and Europe. Despite the expenditure of great effort and resources, the counter-drug policies of the U.S., the European Union (EU) and its member states and Latin American governments have proved ineffective and, in part, counterproductive, severely jeopardising democracy and stability in Latin America. The international community must rigorously assess its errors and adopt new approaches, starting with reduced reliance on the measures of aerial spraying and military-type forced eradication on the supply side and greater priority for alternative development and effective law enforcement that expands the positive presence of the state. On the demand reduction side, it should aim to incarcerate traffickers and use best treatment and harm reduction methods to avoid revolving and costly jail sentences for chronic users.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Cooperation, War on Drugs
  • Political Geography: Europe, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The policies of a decade or more to stop the flow of cocaine from the Andean source countries, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, to the two largest consumer markets, the U.S. and Europe, have proved insufficient and ineffective. Cocaine availability and demand have essentially remained stable in the U.S. and have been increasing in Europe. Use in Latin American transit countries, in particular Argentina, Brazil and Chile, is on the rise. Flawed counter-drug polices also are causing considerable collateral damage in Latin America, undermining support for democratic governments in some countries, distorting governance and social priorities in others, causing all too frequent human rights violations and fuelling armed and/or social conflicts in Colombia, Bolivia and Peru. A comprehensive shared policy reassessment and a new consensus on the balance between approaches emphasising law enforcement and approaches emphasising alternative development and harm reduction are urgently required.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Cooperation, War on Drugs
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Latin America, Chile, Peru, Bolivia
  • Publication Date: 09-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Eighteen months after the rupture of peace talks between its predecessor and the main insurgent group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Uribe administration has entered upon a high risk-high gain negotiating process with the main paramilitary group, the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), that will test its skill and its good faith.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America, Latin America