Speaker: Dr Oscar Palma, Associate Professor, Faculty of International, Political and Urban Studies, Universidad del Rosario in Colombia
Chair: Dr Domitilla Sagramoso, Senior Lecturer in Security and Development, Department of War Studies, King’s College London
On 26 September 2016, a historic peace agreement was signed in La Havana (Cuba) between the Colombian government of Juan Manuel Santos and the left-wing insurgent guerrilla group – FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). While the agreement was rejected by a slight majority of Colombians in a referendum, a modified version of the deal was renegotiated and finally approved by the Colombian parliament in late November 2016.
The peace deal put an end to over five decades of high-level violence endured by Colombia, yet its practical implementation has faced severe challenges, especially in the realm of security. While a high number of FARC militants have been demobilised and disarmed over the past six years, several armed groups continue to exist, such as the left-wing insurgency group ELN, the paramilitary/drug cartel Clan del Golfo or Urabeños, and violent groups such as the Pelusos and the Puntilleros.
More importantly, several dissident FARC groups, who refused to demobilise after the Havana agreements were signed, continue to defy the achievement of a durable peace in Colombia. Illicit trafficking remains one of the key motivating factors of these violent groups.
Dr Oscar Palma has researched extensively on the security aspect of the Havana agreements, and in his presentation, he will be providing us details of the nature and characteristics of these violent groups. He will also be discussing the election - for the first time in Colombia’s history - of a left-wing candidate to the Presidency in the spring of 2022, Gustavo Petro. He will assess the chances of this leading to a new, and hopefully more effective, way of dealing with these violent groups.
About the speakers
Oscar Palma is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of International, Political and Urban Studies at Universidad del Rosario in Colombia. He holds a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He is a frequent lecturer at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany, and a Scholar of the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies in Washington D.C. He also lectures at the Colombian Joint War College and other academic institutions of the Colombian Navy and the Army. He was a Commissioned Officer of the Army serving as Intelligence Analyst at the Joint Command, and the Candidate of the Colombian Government to the International Narcotics Control Board of the United Nations in 2021.
Domitilla Sagramoso is an expert on Russian foreign and security policy, with a particular focus on the post-Soviet space. Her work covers a variety of topics – violent conflicts, military cooperation, energy trade, commercial relations, and international institutions. Her analysis is carried out within the framework of ‘Hegemony’ and ‘Neo-Empire’ theories of International Relations.
She is currently working on book on the complex Russian/Ukrainian relationship since 1991, with a specific focus on the outbreak of war in 2014.