Getting back to the start: South Sudan establishes a unity government

It is truly an absurd situation. After two and half years of a bloody civil war in South Sudan, we have the same political situation as it started. A unity government will force the two main rivals to work together and bring the “youngest state” of the international government back on track.Doubts remain how peace can be uphold due to the destruction of the country’s weak infrastructure and the poor revenue of the state due to low oil prices. The key question though is how to bring about reconciliation, justice and peace in a divided country. Continue reading “Getting back to the start: South Sudan establishes a unity government”

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History in the making in Colombia: Agreement about justice and reparations for victims

The word “historic” is used quite a bit these days. And yet, the agreement reached between the Colombian government and the FARC is such an historic event, although we will have to wait most likely until 23 March 2016, until a final peace agreement is going to be signed. What happened? The government and the leftist guerrilla group reached an agreement inside the fourth point on the negotiation agenda, the victims chapter and decided to sign a final peace agreement in the next six months. Continue reading “History in the making in Colombia: Agreement about justice and reparations for victims”

Clarifying the past: Colombia’s big step forward at peace negotiations

Colombia will create a truth commission. The Colombian government and the left-wing guerrilla FARC decided on 4 June 2015 to set up a body that should clarify major human rights violations committed by all sides. It should reveal past atrocities, recognize the victims and make sure that these kinds of crimes will not be repeated in the future. While a big step forward, many challenges remain ahead. Continue reading “Clarifying the past: Colombia’s big step forward at peace negotiations”

Reflecting on peace education with “Somos CaPAZes”

Over the period of seven months, I was part of “Somos CaPAZes”, an NGO consisting of students and young professionals who work with disadvantaged children in Bogotá. More precisely, we worked in peace education in Ciudad Bolívar, the poorest part of Colombia’s capital Bogotá. Continue reading “Reflecting on peace education with “Somos CaPAZes””

Dividing lines between human rights advocats and conflict resolvers

Third parties dealing with violent conflict through non-violent means has produced two types of people out there: human rights activists and conflict resolvers. From the outside it appears to be obvious that human rights advocates and conflict resolution practitioners would closely cooperate, or in fact are the same type of people because they work in very similar environments. However, they are not the same people and they can speak very different languages. Continue reading “Dividing lines between human rights advocats and conflict resolvers”

The rocky relations between peace and justice

How can we reach sustainable peace after violent conflict? We need to convince the conflict parties to halt the violence and bring the conflict to an end. We need to convince the belligerents, particularly the government, to address the structural violence in society that always exists in violent conflict. We need to achieve peace and justice to reach a stable and democratic society. Continue reading “The rocky relations between peace and justice”

Why peace is ideological in Colombia

Peace is not aspired by everyone in Colombia, despite the fact that the country is living in historic times to bring its civil war to an end, which has caused more than 220,000 deaths and 6,864,934 victims (mostly displaced people). In fact, the debate about peace is an ideological battle between the left and the right. Many armed actors are involved in violence, intimidation and in drug trafficking. However, the ideological view usually allows just a limited perspective one has on the conflict.
Continue reading “Why peace is ideological in Colombia”

Colombia: Why Santos has such a hard time to be re-elected

Santos (c) es.wikipedia.org

Imagine an election where you have candidates to chose from but you have no idea whom to vote for. Colombia’s presidential elections are just 10 days to go, and yet my (liberal and probably rather left-leaning) friends in Bogotá say that they have no clue whom they should vote for on 25 May. According to the latest polls, it is not clear if current president Juan Manuel Santos (62) will be re-elected, for sure he is not going to make in the first round. Continue reading “Colombia: Why Santos has such a hard time to be re-elected”