Our work in Colombia

Updated: 14 August 2017

Colombia is developing, but many challenges remain and differences still exist between regions and social groups. After decades of support to peace work in Colombia, Sweden has a unique position to influence the transition from war to peace. 

The overall goal of Swedish development cooperation in Colombia is to contribute to sustainable peace and development as well as human security.


In 2016, a historic peace agreement was signed between the country's largest guerrilla group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the state of Colombia. At the same time, the peace process with the country's second major guerrilla group Ejercito de Liberación Nacional (ELN) began.

Sweden has for a long time been in favour of and promoting a negotiated solution to the conflict, and will contribute to the implementation of the peace agreement as well as to the negotiations with ELN. The Swedish development cooperation with Colombia has, after decades of political dialogue, high credibility in the country. The high reliability has given Sweden a key role in the peace process.

Sida supports, among other actors, the High Commissioner for Peace and the Ministry of Postal Conflict. These and other state institutions are responsible for implementing the peace agreement at national and local level. Sida also supports a regional peace and development program in conflict-affected regions run by United Nation's development program (UNDP).

Sida is a donor to the four funds established for the Colombian post-conflict period (by the UN, EU, World Bank, and IDB), within the effort "Colombia en Paz". Sida is one of the largest donors to the UN Peace Fund, with purpose to demonstrate the positive benefits of peace in the critical period immediately following the signing of a peace agreement. Through the fund, Sweden has contributed to compensation to the victims of war, mine clearance activities, the prevention of recruitment of young people into illegal and armed groups, and giving young people opportunities to act as ambassadors for peace.

Human rights and democratic governance

Many serious violations of human rights have been committed during the armed conflict. Unfortunately, after the peace agreement entered force, the threats increased to human rights defenders and social leaders. In order to strengthen the rule of law, Sida grants support to Colombian state institutions. Sweden also cooperates with Diakonia, The Swedish Fellowship of reconciliation and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). One example of work Sida is supporting is international presence in the areas of conflict, raising the political cost of threatening human rights defenders and enabling meetings between the defenders and political leaders.

Sweden collaborates with several Colombian civil society organizations, often in relation to the use of land and other natural resources, but also linked to social injustice. Most of these organizations work with peace building locally. Sweden also cooperates with the Organization Electoral Observation Mission (MOE). Through its observers, the mission plays a central role in various elections.


Including women in the implementation of the peace agreement and reconstruction of the country is crucial for achieving sustainable peace and development. Equally important is to include men and to discuss the male role.

Through political dialogue and support for UN Women and central government agencies, Sweden has contributed to increased female participation in the peace process between the government and FARC. The Subcommittee on Gender Equality, created by the government and FARC, resulted in concrete regulations on equality and women's rights in the final peace agreement.

Prior to implementing the peace agreement between FARC and the government and in the peace process with ELN, Sweden continues to pursue issues of gender equality and women as actors for peace.

Additionally, Sweden works for enhanced capacity to prevent and deal with gender-related violence, focusing on women and girls in conflict-affected areas. The Swedish and Colombian police have a collaboration including, among other things, education about how the Colombian police will deal with and investigate domestic violence.

Transitional justice and restitution of land

Millions of Colombians have had to leave their homes and been deprived of their land during the 50-year-long conflict. Powerful landowners have gained control over very large part of Colombia's cultivable land by illegal and unfair methods. Sweden supported, through projects, both transition of justice and restitution of land in order to provide the victims with redress.

Through the UN Food and Agriculture Organization FAO, Sida collaborates with the land reclamation unit. The program helps thousands of people each year to get land returned and support for income-generating activities. Support is also given to projects and official institutions that work to investigate, clarify, prosecute and convict those responsible for the serious abuses committed during the conflict.

Green and sustainable rural development

Sweden supports rural development as well as sustainable use of natural resources. The EU Trust Fund aims to ensure that regions in the country left behind the rest of Colombia in terms of social services and income opportunities should be more involved in the country's development and better off economically. The IDB Fund is a long-term fund investing in sustainable energy, green technology, climate-smart solutions and sustainable watercourses.

Sweden provides, through FAO, support to replace illegal crops such as the coca plant with legal ones. This in order for families to get new opportunities to live within the framework of the law while providing both more nutritious food as well as selling a part to improve the household's financial situation. Sweden has contributed to the funding of Colombia's National Sustainable Development Plan, and is also supporting a large number of civil society organizations promoting increased attention to the environment and to natural resources while respecting human rights.

Corporate alliances

Through the "Ideas for Peace" foundation, Sida finances several innovative and environmentally sustainable business projects. Subsequently, private resources have come to support the initiative, favouring thousands of entrepreneurs in conflict-affected regions.

The "Ruta Motor" initiative has improved the opportunities for the vulnerable youth to enter the formal labour market through career guidance and access to education, which also has reduced crime.

Additionally, Sweden is, among other things, in dialogue with trade unions and the industry to promote decent working conditions. Sweden will also support the unions in this work. Particular focus is on reintegration of ex-combatants in the labour market.

Humanitarian aid

Since 1985, more than 6.4 million people have been forced to flee their homes. The majority remain in the country and about 80 percent live in poverty. Sweden's humanitarian support is aimed primarily at internally displaced people and to strengthen the Colombian state's capacity to find solutions to the situation. Sweden's partners are mainly the International Red Cross Committee and the United Nations Humanitarian Coordination Office (OCHA) and the UNHCR Refugee Commission.

Page owner: Department for Europe and Latin America

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