DAG-3QD Peace and Justice Symposium: What is the future for Colombia’s Rebels?

Online symposium 6-09

Dear Reader,

We are very pleased to collaborate with the Amsterdam-based Dialogue Advisory Group (DAG) to bring to you online symposia on topics of international peace and justice. This is the sixth in this series of symposia; the first five can be seen here.

DAG is an organization which discreetly assists government, inter-government and other actors to confidentially manage national and international mediation efforts. Among their publicly known activities is DAG’s involvement in verifying the ETA ceasefire in Basque Country and the decommissioning of the weapons of INLA, a dissident Republican armed group in Northern Ireland.

DAG is directed by Ram Manikkalingam who also teaches politics at the University of Amsterdam. He advised the previous President of Sri Lanka during the peace process with the Tamil Tigers and prior to that advised the Rockefeller Foundation’s program in international peace and security.

In the DAG-3QD Peace and Justice Symposia internationally recognized figures will debate challenges in conflict resolution and human rights. One (or more) author(s) will present a thesis in the form of a short essay and then the others will present critiques of that point of view. Finally, the initial author(s) will also have an opportunity to present a rebuttal to the critiques.

The topic this time is the future of the FARC rebels in Colombia.

The distinguished participants in this symposium:

  • Ivan Briscoe is a Senior Research Fellow at the Conflict Research Unit of Clingendael, where he specializes in the political economy of post-conflict countries and analysis of organized crime, with a regional focus on Latin America. His has written widely on drug trafficking, shadow state structures and the dynamics of inequality, and has carried out extensive field research on these subjects in Central America, the Andes and the southern cone. Prior to joining Clingendael in 2009, he was Senior Researcher at the Foundation for International Relations and Foreign Dialogue (FRIDE) in Madrid, and before then worked a decade as a journalist and newspaper editor in Latin America, France and Spain, including stints in El País, Agence France Presse, and the UNESCO Courier. He continues to write a weekly column for the Buenos Aires Herald, and regularly contributes to openDemocracy. He can be followed on Twitter here: @itbriscoe
  • Timo Peeters is a research fellow at the Conflict Research Unit, Clingendael. A criminologist trained in Utrecht University, he is a specialist in the phenomenon of vigilante groups.
  • Annette Idler has worked as an academic and practitioner on conflict prevention, peace building, development and transnational organised crime. She is in the final stage of her doctoral research at the University of Oxford's Department of International Development in which she analyses violent non-state actor interactions in Colombia’s borderlands and their impact on citizen security. As a Drugs, Security and Democracy Fellow, sponsored by the Social Science Research Council and Open Society Foundations, she conducted over one year of extensive fieldwork in Colombia’s crisis-affected borderlands and was visiting researcher at universities in Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. Annette has obtained an MA in International Relations from King’s College London’s Department of War Studies and a BA double degree in German-Spanish Studies/International Politics from the University Complutense of Madrid, Spain, and the University of Regensburg, Germany. She is co-founder of a peace, security and development consulting service and previously worked for UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the German Development Organisation InWEnt. She has published several journal articles and a book chapter on violent non-state actors, citizen security, borderlands and Colombia.
  • Barbara Unger is Programme Director for Latin America at the Berghof Foundation. She was a freelance advisor and trainer for peace and conflict, a coordinator of Zivik project 2002-2004, and also previously worked with the German Development Corporation. She is a long-term activist and member of Peace Brigades International, a member of the German Platform for Conflict Management, and Board member of the Forum Ziviler Friedensdienst.
  • Katrin Planta is Researcher and Project Officer on Dialogue, Mediation and Peace Support Structures at the Berghof Foundation. She previously worked as a project officer on the ‘Resistance and Liberation Movements in Transition’ programme and spent six months in Colombia conducting interviews for a research project on armed groups’ cohesion based at Oxford University.

I would like to thank the participants as well as Ram Manikkalingam, Fleur Ravensbergen, Daniël Grütters, and Pamela Kalkman of the Dialogue Advisory Group for working closely with me in organizing these symposia. The logo for the symposium has been designed by Amanda Beugeling.

We look forward to your comments and feedback.


S. Abbas Raza

NOTE: DAG and 3QD wish to acknowledge the generous contribution of the Dutch Stichting Democratie en Media toward these symposia, as well as the support of our readers.


[Click the links below to read the essays.]

  1. Back to Basics for Colombia's Rebels by Ivan Briscoe and Timo Peeters
  2. The Margins at the Centre of the FARC’s Future by Annette Idler
  3. Peace Beyond a Peace Deal by Katrin Planta and Barbara Unger
  4. The Shady Side of a Modern State by Ivan Briscoe and Timo Peeters





Please leave comments about any of the essays in the symposium in the comments area of this post. Thank you.