Intergenerational Dialogue in Colombia
After more than 50 years of armed conflict in Colombia, there is a deep legacy of violence. This violence killed more than 220,000 people, displaced over 7 million, and created over half a million refugees.
In November 2016, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government signed a ratified peace deal, marking a formal end to the armed conflict.
This historic moment brought with it hope for the people of Colombia, and new responsibilities for GPPAC and its peace network. In order to achieve a truly stable and lasting peace, a holistic cultural transformation is required to overcome a deeply rooted culture of violence.
This process involves many complex risks. Youth in marginalised regions are particularly vulnerable to being drawn into the criminal activities of, for instance, drug traffickers, criminal bands, and guerrillas. Poverty, inequality, unemployment, and a severe lack of opportunities in these regions all contribute to deepening the problem.
Colombian youth have been unenthusiastic about political participation. To move from a culture of violence to one of peace, the inclusion of youth is essential to learn from past generations, as well as the country's history.
In 2017, La Paz Querida and GPPAC launched a project on Intergenerational Dialogue for a Peace Culture in Colombia funded by the German zivik Funding Programme of the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (Institute for Foreign Relations). It aims to promote intergenerational dialogue in building a culture of peace in Colombia, and to empower Colombian youth to participate in influencing policy at a national level. Ultimately, the project seeks to reconstruct the social fabric, especially in the most affected regions of Colombia.
Through this project, which was implemented in 2017 and 2018, intergenerational dialogues took place in 15 municipalities particularly affected by violence. In each selected municipality a dialogue was organized in the largest public school, with the participation of high-school students, teachers; parents; and members of regional social organisations, as well as civil society organisations.
The Intergenerational Dialogue project contributed to the conflict transformation in Colombia in three ways:
1. it empowered communities to engage in peacebuidling dialogues, thus becoming more resilient to violence and more efficient in identifying problems and their solutions
2. it contributed to the reduction of mistrust within the communities through dialogues among diverse groups of participants
3. it improved the capacities of participants to listen to each other, accept each other differences, and recognize the importance of peaceful resolution to conflicts.