IGL hosts alumni panel on peacebuilding in Colombia

The Institute for Global Leadership and Latin American Committee (LAC) held a panel titled “Reflections from Peacebuilding in Colombia and on Security in Latin America” yesterday. The event drew on thoughts, experiences and regional perspectives to discuss Colombian conflict and the peacebuilding process. 

The event, hosted in Cabot 205 in the Fletcher School, featured Mauricio Artiñano (LA’06) and Helaina Stein (LA’10). 

The event began with a brief history of Colombia’s conflict, provided by mediator Vladimir Proaño.

The conflict began in the mid 1960s between the Colombian government and the rural, leftist guerilla group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo or The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP). After failed peace treaty attempts and multiple reforms, a final agreement was reached in 2016.

The agreement called for a bilateral ceasefire, a land reform agreement and an agreement to fight drug trafficking networks, according to Proaño, a senior. Artiñano said that, most controversially, the treaty guaranteed a reintegration socially, economically and politically for the FARC-EP and would not hold accountable those guilty of crimes committed in conflict settings against international human rights law and international law.

Artiñano was first deployed by the United Nations (UN) to Colombia in 2016. He worked for the UN Verification Mission in Colombia to check that both parties — the government, and the FARC-EP — carried out Section 3.2 and Section 3.4 of the Peace Treaty. Section 3.2 regards the political, economic and political integration of former FARC-EP combatants, and Section 3.4 regards the Implementation of Security and Protection. 

Artiñano emphasized that his position was not as a passive observer, but instead actively engaging with peacebuilding. 

He gave an anecdote of former FARC-EP members being socially reintegrated through the use of tourism as they generally have a wide knowledge of the surrounding environments. Artiñano, after seeing a picture of former FARC-EP members and Colombian villagers guiding rafting trips together, created a Go Fund Me to send Costa Rican rafting instructors to finish training the group.

The efforts received attention from the International Rafting Federation. Artiñano stated that the team competed in the International Rafting Championship in Australia.

Artiñano cited this team as representing the success of the peace negotiations, pointing out a picture of the Minister of Sports in Colombia with a rafter before the International Championship.

“He is giving the Colombian flag to a former rebel to represent Colombia officially,”Artiñano said, stressing the story’s symbolism of peacebuilding.

Helaina Stein, who has worked in Colombia with the Organization of American States (OAS), said that she tracked and helped monitor how the U.S. provides assistance and technical support to various security programs. She emphasized the pillars of OAS of democracy, human rights, security and development. 

Both Stein and Artiñano cited the connections Tufts and Fletcher has with the international world to the opportunities, experiences and careers. 

According to Piper Goeking, a sophomore, an at large executive board member of the LAC, panels are a large part of the club, in addition to biweekly meetings. 

“I’ve seen so much suffering happening around the world because of conflict, and I think this really, really reinforces my desire and my passion to make sure that Colombia works, because we need a success story in the field of peacebuilding and conflict resolution,” Artiñano said.