News from Oct 14, 2016
Since October 1st 2016 the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) supports the establishment of a German-Columbian Peace Institute (Deutsch-Kolumbianisches Friedeninstituts, DKFI), which is located at the biggest state university of Columbia, the Universidad Nacional, and will cooperate with universities all over the country. The DKFI is financed by the German Federal Foreign Office within the scope of the external culture and education policy and is supposed to get integrated in a growing network of German and Columbian institutions in the medium-term. The funding is provided for a period of ten years.
After more than 50 years of civil war, the Columbian government and the Farc-rebels, having conducted negotiations for over four years, finally agreed upon an extensive peace agreement. A slight majority of the Columbian voters rejected the treaty on October 2nd, yet, since Columbia’s president Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, there is new hope raising that all parties involved will endeavor to reach a constructive, responsible and sustainable solution of the conflict.
The Peace Institute, serving as a place for research, studies and consulting, will convey expertise to important questions of peace research, historical revision, conflict prevention, and the shaping of a post-conflict society.
Walter Steinmeier, the German Federal Foreign Minister, emphasized that, after the failure of the referendum and thus the difficult phase of the peace process, it is important to do everything to gain peace. Scientific political consulting, he further said, is crucial for Columbia’s long-term development and Germany wants to contribute to it with the German-Columbian Peace Institute.
Prof. Margret Wintermantel, president of the DAAD, said that the country is on a long way which is all about guaranteeing sustainable peace and that Germany is accompanying this process on the level of research and teaching.
In a competitive selection procedure a consortium of Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, the Freie Universität Berlin, and the Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung was chosen by an independent expert commission for the establishment of the institute.
In the armed conflict, persisting since the 1960s, more than 220.000 people died and several million people became refugees. Due to the failed plebiscite, the peace process has suffered a severe setback that forces president Santos to renegotiate. A national dialogue shall lead to an acceptable solution for all parties involved. Columbia still faces big challenges: besides the disarming and reintegration of the rebels, the social and political reasons that led to and kept this conflict going on for over five decades, need to be tackled. Another important step will be the legal reconditioning of the numerous war crimes. Germany will support the country in managing this mammoth task.