After 40 years of internal armed conflict and several unsuccessful attempts at negotiating peace, Colombia remains immersed in violence, with the state pitted against two well-armed guerrilla organisations, ELN and FARC, and fast growing paramilitary forces. Bereft of any meaningful political cause since the end of the Cold War, the irregular armed organisations have become deeply involved in kidnapping, drug trafficking and terrorism. The FARC and the paramilitary forces produce some 80 per cent of the world’s cocaine and the ELN is responsible for a large proportion of about 4,000 kidnappings committed every year in Colombia.
On 26 May 2002, Colombians elected Álvaro Uribe to succeed President Andrés Pastrana, whose efforts to find a negotiated solution to the armed conflict with the FARC and ELN ended in failure. During almost four years of government peace efforts, which included the granting of a large demilitarized zone to the FARC and saw a number of peace initiatives launched by the international community, no progress could be made regarding respect for international humanitarian law, lasting cease-fires or viable negotiation agendas. Instead, the irregular forces and Colombia’s military and police have grown in size and firepower and warfare has become more intense, spreading also to the cities. Moreover, a flawed counter-narcotics strategy has seen Colombia’s role in the drug trade increase, and tensions with bordering states, in particular Venezuela, have not been resolved.
President Uribe was elected on a pledge to strengthen the state’s authority and improve security. This is a daunting task that will require a new kind of partnership between Colombia and its friends abroad. ICG’s Colombia/Andean Region project - established in 2001 - will continue to support efforts to find a negotiated solution to this brutal internal conflict. The focus will be on identifying key strategies to reduce the level of violence, resume peace talks, avoid a spill-over of the conflict into the five bordering states and to strengthen democratic governance, reverse the economic downturn and reduce social inequalities in Colombia.
Our reports Colombia/Andes reports are listed below, starting with the most recent. You can also search for relevant reports using the search box in the top right hand side of this page.
Many of our Colombia/Andes reports have been translated into Spanish. To see these reports, click on the "español" button above.
|Recent reports & briefings
|Colombia: Negotiating with the Paramilitaries,
report, 16 September 2003|
|Colombia’s Humanitarian Crisis,
report, 09 July 2003|
|Colômbia e seus vizinhos: os tentáculos da instabilidade,
report, 08 April 2003|
|Colombia and its Neighbours: The Tentacles of Instability,
report, 08 April 2003|
|Colombia: Will Uribe’s Honeymoon Last?,
briefing, 19 December 2002|
|Colombia: Prospects for Peace with the ELN,
report, 04 October 2002|
|The Stakes in the Presidential Election in Colombia,
briefing, 22 May 2002|
|The 10 March 2002 Parliamentary Elections in Colombia,
briefing, 17 April 2002|
|Colombia's Elusive Quest for Peace,
report, 26 March 2002|