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Cablegate: Colombia Shares Lessons From Demobilizing Over 51,000

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SUBJECT: Colombia Shares Lessons from Demobilizing over 51,000

Summary

-------

1. President Uribe and Frank Pearl, High Presidential Commissioner
for Reintegration and High Commissioner for Peace, launched a
document based on Colombia's experience in disarmament,
demobilization and reintegration (DDR) on November 3. The GOC
initiative seeks to share with other nations in conflict lessons
learned from Colombia's seven years and 51,000 participants in DDR.
The GOC has already engaged Haiti, Brazil and the Philippines. The
document was based on the First International Congress on
Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (CIDDR) held in
Cartagena May 4-6. End Summary.

Congress on Disarmament,

Demobilization & Reintegration

------------------------------

2. On November 3, President Uribe and Commissioner Frank Pearl
presented a document produced from the CIDDR that was held in
Cartagena on May 4-6 and attended by 1,400 delegates from 40
countries. CIDDR Director Nat Colletta, founding manager of the
World Bank's post-conflict unit, said that the CIDDR was not
prompted by the international community but inspired by
Commissioner Pearl and the GOC. Pearl recognized that Colombia had
significant experiences and knowledge to share with nations in
post-conflict after Colombia's seven years and over 51,000
participants in the DDR process. The Swedish Ambassador told the
audience that Colombia, through CIDDR, is demonstrating how it has
become a partner in the international community. The document
entitled "The Cartagena Contribution to DDR" is available at
cartagenaddr.org.

Colombia Proposes Solutions and Not Problems

--------------------------------------------

3. Commissioner Pearl said that Colombia was proud to present its
contribution to the world and added, "for the first time, Colombia
proposes solutions and not problems." He said that reintegration
was the key to DDR and to sustainable peace, and is changing the
"essence and face" of Colombia. Pearl emphasized that there is no
magic formula, but working with victims and communities is
essential along with interagency cooperation and committed
investment. Colombia does not pretend to have all the answers and
still has a lot to learn, but the GOC felt strongly that other
countries struggling with armed conflict should benefit from the
lessons of both Colombia's successes and its failures.

GOC Sharing, More Than Just Words

---------------------------------

4. The GOC recently provided reintegration training to Haiti as
part of the UN Peacekeeping team and sponsored two "study tours"
for international DDR practitioners who came to Colombia for
two-week field-based workshops visiting reintegration centers and
productive, education and counseling activities with the
demobilized and GOC staff around the country. Commissioner Pearl
went to Brazil on November 9 to discuss technical cooperation
--most likely bilateral exchange visits. Later this month, he will
lead a team to the Philippines (at their request) to share
experiences and provide training.

Uribe: 'Democratic Security' Much More than Security

--------------------------------------------- -------

5. President Uribe said that reintegration was a key component of
his Democratic Security policy. Uribe stressed that physical
security for citizens was only the first step in the policy which
includes advancing political and individual liberties, human
rights, reconciliation, reparations for victims, and economic
prosperity. Uribe remarked earlier this year at the CIDDR, "for us
the end goal of the Reintegration Policy is not a cemetery or a
prison... it is peace."

Three Broad Lessons

-------------------

6. Colletta said the CIDDR involved DDR implementers,
beneficiaries and practitioners who had first-hand experience.
Colletta identified three broad lessons. First, context matters
and DDR programs are not universally applicable. Contextual
factors include the economy, the local community and the state's
capacity and legitimacy. Second, DDR is a long-term transformative
process that requires long-term investment and commitment. Third,
reintegration requires a holistic approach where labels of victim
and victimizer should be avoided.

Colombian DDR in Numbers

------------------------

7. According to GOC statistics, between August 2002 and April
2009, over 51,000 individuals demobilized. This includes over
35,353 paramilitary, 12,075 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
(FARC), and 2,551 National Liberation Army (ELN) members. The GOC
estimates there are currently ten individual demobilizations per
day where a member of an illegal armed group escapes and presents
him/herself before a civil or military authority. The current rate
of return to criminal activity is 7%.
BROWNFIELD

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