International Cooperation and Development

The social and solidarity-based economy reintegrating former combatants and building peace in Colombia

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The European Union is promoting the Colombian peace process through inclusive economic development with the European Union Trust Fund

At the end of 2016, the FARC-EP and the National Government of Colombia signed the “Final Agreement to End the Armed Conflict and Build a Stable and Lasting Peace”. The Agreement established the basis for a process of national reconciliation and ended an internal armed conflict that extended for more than 50 years throughout the Country.

More than 13.000 former guerrilla members initiated disarmament. It took place over six months and allowed the beginning of a long-term reintegration process that provides them sustainable livelihoods and conditions for social and political participation.

The EU, which strongly supported the negotiation process, reaffirmed its commitment to peace with the European Union Trust Fund for Colombia. The Fund include contributions of 20 countries and comprises more than 120 million euros aimed at the promotion of local initiatives for rural development, reconciliation and peace building, in line with the Peace Agreement.

Paz y reconciliación
The EU, which strongly supported the negotiation process, reaffirmed its commitment to peace with the European Union Trust Fund for Colombia.

Promoting the social and solidarity-based economy

The Peace Agreement identified the Social and Solidarity-based Economy (SSE) for the reintegration of ex-combatants. In this framework, approximately 135 cooperatives were formed throughout the country. These organizations currently integrate more than 6,000 ex-combatants and work on the implementation of a wide range of productive projects and business initiatives that allow them to generate employment and income in the long term.

Of the 24 projects that are currently under execution,16 support and direct investments towards the processes of collective reintegration of former guerrilla members. Although progress is gradual, the latest monitoring report of the European Peace Fund (June 30, 2019) is already showing results, such as:

  • 353 FARC´s former combatants participate in collective or solidarity economy projects;
  • 231 former guerrilla members receive technical training for labour inclusion or entrepreneurship projects;
  • 145 FARC´s former combatants receive training or training or technical assistance in cooperativism, business management and solidarity economy.
Representatives of the government, EU and UN at inauguration a fish production facility.
Representatives of the government, EU and the UN at the inauguration of a fish production facility.

All initiatives have been designed in consultation with groups of former combatants and surrounding communities and the government, in charge of the implementation of the Peace Agreement. This extensive period of dialogue and consensus building is expected to increase sustainability and results. In the coming period, it is expected that approximately 4.000 former combatants and 135 cooperatives will further benefit.

Benefits are accruing for communities who suffered most during the conflict, and territorial authorities. Under a territorial development approach, local production is being linked to formal markets. Actions supported promote sustainable agricultural; fisheries; agro-industrial activities; rural and community-based tourism; and innovative start-ups.

All initiatives have been designed in consultation with groups of former combatants and surrounding communities.

The Fund's projects build local capacity according to the needs of each specific territory and aim to promote new leadership within the cooperatives, while strengthening the business and management capacities of the ex-combatants. All of this is complemented by investment and increased access to credit.

The Fund capitalises on 20 years of European cooperation with Colombia and builds on knowledge and commercial alliances that facilitate the sale of local products to the EU.

The coming years will be crucial to strengthen dialogue, cooperation and conflict-free cohabitation as mechanisms of territorial development and peace building. In that sense, the Social and Solidarity-based Economy with the support of the European Peace Fund is building social inclusion, job creation and peace in Colombia.

Visit the Fondo Europea para la Paz website here.