U.N. Donates $55 Million To Finally Fulfill 2016 Colombian Peace Accord

As one of its last actions of the year, a United Nations multi-donor fund of 14 countries donated $55 million dollars to the Colombian state. The donation, the largest the state has received since the fund’s establishment in 2016, is meant to finance Colombian president Gustavo Petro’s rural reform policies, fulfill the 2016 peace accords signed between the state and a guerrilla group, and protect social leaders, victims, and ambassadors.

In 2016, the guerrilla Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (F.A.R.C.) and the Colombian state made a peace accord to halt an armed conflict which spanned over 60 years and extinguished 450,000 lives. The agreement gave complete amnesty and support during re-insertion into civil life to every guerrilla who would give up their weapon, as well as establishing a political party which would allow the former rebels some input in the policy-making process, protecting civil leaders, compensating victims, and making rural reforms. Nonetheless, according to a study by the American University of Notre Dame, only 28% of the accord had been fulfilled by November 2020. Six years after the agreement was signed, many of its promises have not been met, inciting many guerrilla dissidents to come back to arms.

In response, President Petro, recently elected from the left wing, has promised that he will completely fulfill the 2016 accord and finally establish peace.

“We believe that this international participation is an innovative, agile, and transparent tool for the Peace Accord’s implementation,” said Mireia Villar, the U.N.’s co-ordinator for this fund. “International overview will help Colombia observe with more caution the processes that will lead to justice and complete reparation.”

In other words, the international community’s involvement and supervision will keep Colombia accountable for how the money is used. According to investigations made by Colombian radio station BluRadio, 17 contracts out of 33 related to the Peace Accords were overpriced at $3.7 billion U.S.D. The office of the Colombian Attorney General has already begun a criminal investigation. In a country where, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, it takes a poor family 330 years to climb out of poverty, transparency and good application of funds is essential to resolve issues. Without international oversight to reign in corruption, the donation may have only increased Colombia’s inequalities, keeping its conflicts alive.

Even if there’s still a long way to go, Colombia is ready to embrace peace in its totality. Talks have begun between the Colombian State and the National Liberation Army, the last active guerrilla force in Latin America. Along with the $84.6 billion budget planned for 2023, with its emphasis on social programs and international support, the talks are solving the ongoing conflict by appealing to one common priority: peace and stability for the Colombian people.

Such efforts should be applauded. Countries going through similar hardships have a lot they could learn from Petro’s process towards peace.