On 21 June 2017, NIMD held an expert event on political party assistance for the conversion of armed movements, with a special focus on Colombia’s peace process.

This one-day meeting brought together approximately 15 academics, practitioners, and politicians in The Hague, the Netherlands, to reflect on their experiences regarding the political conversion of armed movements. Drawing on these experiences, as well as historic or current practices, the event helped to inform strategic thinking on supporting the FARC and other former armed movements in their political conversion process.

Specifically, the meeting aimed to deepen knowledge and insights amongst the practitioners, researchers, and politicians, who were encouraged to reflect critically on how political party assistance providers can best support the conversion of armed movements to political parties.

As an outcome of the event, the ideas and recommendations will form the basis of a policy paper and recommendations brief on assisting the FARC in its conversion to a political party. NIMD will use the lessons learned to deepen our own knowledge and strengthen our political party assistance programming and our work in Colombia.

The participants of the event.

Getting the most from the sessions

The sessions aimed to offer maximum opportunity for participants to share their experiences and expertise on the subject matter through short presentations, feedback and discussions.

The sessions each covered the topic of political conversion from a different perspective. Discussions focused around how conversion affects the broader party system, party organization, and how to provide support.

For each session, an expert provided information on the Colombia/FARC context. One participant presented their experiences and another participant provided critical feedback from their experiences. Each session led to questions and in-depth discussion.

At the end of each session, the group formulated concrete recommendations appropriate for the Colombia case.

The political transition of the FARC

As a result of the signing of the Peace Accord in November last year, the Colombian House of Representatives recently approved a bill enabling and the reorganization of the FARC as a political party and allowing the members of the armed movement to transition into civilian life.

Transitional arrangements will most likely allow for the entry of the FARC into electoral politics as soon as demobilisation is complete, with the intention that a formal political party will be established. The arrangement goes as far as to guarantee at least ten FARC seats in the Parliament for the next two election cycles.

Within the framework of the Peace Accord, NIMD is actively engaging with the Colombian Government and the parties to support the reforms necessary for this new political reality.

Further reading

Photos

For the third year running, NIMD held a Democracy School for young representatives of political and civil society organizations in Honduras. These young people came together to complete training modules, engage in dialogue and propose a plan towards social change based on democratic values.

This year, the School took place in the city of La Esperanza in the south west of Honduras. 20 young people took part in the course: 11 women and 9 men representing 5 political parties. Through a series of six sessions each lasting up to three days, the NIMD Democracy School aimed to build the capacities of these future political and social leaders, imparting democratic values to help them to contribute proactively in building a new democratic culture.

The training promoted a proactive, participative and democratic form of leadership. It comprised six modules which were rolled out between May and July 2017, and which focused on creating social change towards deeper democracy:

  • Social change in my country and my area: The democracy we want;
  • Tools for social change I: generative dialogue and inclusive strategic planning;
  • Tools for social change II: planning and strategic planning and communication for change;
  • Constructing social change: public policies, transparency and accountability;
  • Our prototype of change;
  • Communicating social change in our area.

With the support of specialized instructors, the young political and social leaders developed skills to help them to promote democratic values. It is hoped that they will go on to use these skills to drive initiatives of change based on inclusivity, respect and rule of law. Through these initiatives, the participants engaged proactively in developing a new political and democratic culture within their organizations, their regions and their country as a whole.

Why a Democracy School in Honduras?

Much like other Latin American countries, Honduras faces deep structural problems such as extreme poverty, human rights violations, and a lack of trust in institutions, particularly political parties.

These problems must be addressed by all citizens, but especially by young political leaders who are set hold decision-making positions in the future.

The Democracy School in Honduras helps these young leaders to identify and analyse the structural problems faced by their county. The School promotes a culture of transparency and accountability, and provides the new generation of leaders with the skills and values necessary to build a more inclusive and robust democracy.

More on NIMD’s democracy education here.