Civil War Insurgency

Supporting the Peace Talks in Colombia

By Oliver Kaplan

As part of our continuing interest in the ongoing negotiations with Colombia’s FARC rebels, co-author Mike Albertus and I published an analysis in Foreign Affairs earlier this week entitled “Land for Peace in Colombia.”

In the piece we consider how land reform in the peace accords in Guatemala and El Salvador helped resolve the civil conflicts in those countries. We highlight market-based reforms as a reasonable compromise that is applicable to Colombia. However, given our statistical findings on Colombia’s troubled past with land reform, we warn that to get FARC buy-in such a program would have to be credible — strongly supported and well funded.

That’s where the international community has a role to play. We suggest international actors can help make commitments to land reform credible by:

  1. Creating a verification mechanism for the implementation of land programs.
  2. Donating matching-funds to a government market-based land purchase program.

Colombia has a historic opportunity for peace. With any luck, the international community will also seize on its chance to contribute to resolving the linchpin issue of land reform.

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