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Democracy and Neoliberalism in Colombia: A sour blend for Peace?: An analysis of the neoliberal economic and political model for the post-conflict in Colombia
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

By 1990, the process of peacebuilding, which requires addressing the root causes of conflict, was guided by a generally unstated but widely endorsed theory of conflict management: the notion that "liberalization" in post-conflict settings would help to originate the conditions for a stable and lasting peace. Central America was one of the first laboratories of international policies promoting the threefold transformation of ‘democratization, marketization and pacification’ conceived as the "liberal peacebuilding paradigm". The peacebuilding missions were considered a success as they effectively prevented a relapse into war in the region but, serious deficits in the transformation processes - persistent socio-economic inequalities, an explosive crime wave, increasing authoritarianism and political polarization - have continue to threaten Central America as a likely scenario of renewed social conflict. Despite de illusion of "peace and democracy" the peacebuilding efforts have reproduced the very primary conditions that contributed to the outbreak of fighting in the first place, which is clearly contrary to the mission of peacebuilding: “a stable and lasting peace”.  Similarly, the economic and political liberalization projects were urged by international pressure in Colombia in an attempt to achieve a political solution to the armed struggle. However, efforts on implementing the liberal agenda have had questionable results; a 'formal and presidentialist democracy', an exclusive economic model which has further ignited the structural causes of conflict as well as an increased state militarization and emerging patterns of violence reproduction. Both cases analyzed in this research offer a good example of the 'hybrid outcomes' of the model in creating a façade of formal democracies or renew traditional patterns of 'mal-development' and violence.


Liberalism in Colombia does not offer a good example of the supposedly 'pacifying' effects of democratic and economic opening so far, but rather, of a negative form of 'hybrid peace'. The prospects of achieving a 'lasting and stable' peace are being endangered by a new wave of aggressive neoliberal policies and its destabilizing effects as well as their cross-purposes with the prevailing constitutional order. Rather than a peace relying over social consent, it resembles an elite 'pact-making' to preserve the neoliberal state and economic order. If these unstable conditions are not reversed or ameliorated in the event of a final peace agreement, Colombia will probably continue at war but 'by other means'.


Liberal peacebuilding is a double-edged tool. It has the potential to create the political and economic conditions for a lasting and stable peace, yet implementation can reproduce the sources of conflict and prompt a relapse into war. This study will explore through secondary data the triple transformative processes of the liberal model - democratization, marketization and pacification - in the post-war Central American countries, in an endeavor to provide lessons learnt to the current peace process in Colombia. Following the same logic and variables, the study will examine through a review of primary and secondary data the results of liberalization so far and its future prospects for bringing a lasting and stable peace in Colombia. Peace at last?

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 141 p.
Keyword [en]
Neoliberalism; Democracy; Peacebuilding; Armed conflict; Transnational Processeses; Globalization; Colombia; Peacemaking
National Category
Social Sciences Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified Globalization Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-241321OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-241321DiVA: diva2:778438
Subject / course
International Humanitarian Action
Educational program
Master Programme in International Humanitarian Action
2014-12-16, 01:37 (English)
Available from: 2015-01-15 Created: 2015-01-10 Last updated: 2015-01-15Bibliographically approved

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