Political party assistance for the conversion of armed movements: An expert meeting

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