Why Peace Agreements Fail

 15 April 2021      

Nevertheless, the participation of civil society plays an important role in the field of reconciliation, as it can help reduce barriers to the resistance of the population to the reintegration of the rebels into society. “The irrationality of violence and the psychosocial effects it entails do not come and go. They are part of the daily life of what Pierre Bourdieu called “habitus” (Fetherston, 2000: 195). As Fetherston said, it is very difficult for a society that has suffered terrible human rights violations to forgive and peacefully accept the reintegration of the rebels. Without members of civil society who are actively working to reduce barriers to reintegration, it would be difficult to achieve lasting peace. If reconciliation does not take place, the reintegration of veterans will not be effective to some extent and will therefore push them back into crime. Exploitable resources (defined as resources easily acquired by individuals and small groups of unskilled workers) appear to prolong non-separatist conflicts because they tend to bring benefits to the rebels. If the resource is illegal, it is even more likely to benefit the rebels. In addition, it creates discipline problems within the group, as it becomes difficult for a commander to impose the terms of an agreement – thus prolonging the conflict. There is a third possibility: “The exploitation of the resources of war will become profitable for the rebels to prefer war to peace” (Ross, 2003: 59). Finally, peace will be understood as the absence of war. He notes that “a narrow definition of the word peace, which focuses on the absence of physical violence (…) offers practical benefits for research and is normatively legitimate” (Muller in Podszun, 2011: 72).

According to the observation of Muller, the definition of peace used for this thesis will remain the one mentioned above. Note that I use the term war instead of physical violence. Given that violence in Colombia is on several levels (drug dealers, criminal organizations, political assassinations and other guerrillas alongside the FARC), it is very difficult to talk about peace in Colombia in the sense of a lack of violence. Peace is therefore defined (for the purpose of this analysis) as the absence of war and not as the absence of physical violence.