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The Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, supported by InSight Crime and the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform, hosted a seminar on Peace with the FARC – ushering in a new chapter in Colombia’s history of crime and violence? on Thursday, 01 September 2016, 14:00 – 16:00 in our Global Initiative Geneva headquarters.

After more than five decades of conflict and three years of negotiations, in June 2016, the Colombian government and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) rebel group reached an historic peace agreement. The end of conflict between the Colombian government and FARC could be a real game changer, not only for Colombia, but for the entire region.

While the peace deal should signal an end to the political violence of the FARC, the criminal economies they control, estimated to be worth up to a billion dollars a year, will not just disappear. The FARC are heavily involved in the drug trade, controlling up to 70 per cent of Colombia’s coca production, as well as illegal mining and extortion.

A peace agreement would change the landscape as far as control over these illicit industries are concerned. Other criminal actors are already positioning themselves to take over FARC revenues and elements in the rebels are likely to criminalise and go into business for themselves. A period of criminal flux has already begun and will worsen the closer we get to an agreement and in its immediate aftermath (InSight Crime, 2016).

These dynamics will inevitably affect Colombia’s neighbours, which are already grappling with their own issues. Venezuela is increasingly on the brink of implosion, Brazil is in the grip of political and economic crisis, while further north El Salvador’s gang-violence has transformed this Central American nation into one of the world’s murder capitals. This situation presents fertile ground for transnational organised crime.

This seminar aimed to explore the implications of Colombia’s reconfiguring criminal economy. In times of great hope the peace process will mean a new chapter of Colombia’s history. At the same time, there will be significant risks, that with the reconfiguration of the region’s criminal economies and the implications will have for the countries along the volatile drugs corridor from Colombia to Mexico and beyond.

The seminar featured a keynote presentation by Jeremy McDermott of InsightCrime, a Colombia based Observatory currently engaged in developing local ‘Peace Maps’ with local governments across the country, and include respondents Nicolas von Arx, who was until recently the Deputy Head of Mission for the International Red Cross in Colombia, and Achim Wennman, the Executive Coordinator of the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform.

The seminar was targeted at policymakers and practitioners actively engaged in the Americas, and provided a foundation upon which to assess current and future planning and programming frameworks within a context of a post-peace agreement Colombia.

Download a summary of the event: meeting-summary-farc-peace-agreement-1-september-2016

For further information please contact Jessica Gerken of the Global Initiative Secretariat