Solutions to Violent Conflict

A Barometer of Peace Implementation in Colombia

In Peace Accords on October 11, 2017 at 11:08 am

David Cortright and Laurel Stone

Working at the nexus of practice and research, the Peace Accords Matrix (PAM) program has established by way of empirical evidence the world’s largest collection of implementation data on peace agreements. The PAM database tracks the implementation status of 34 comprehensive peace accords (CPAs) negotiated since 1989 and assesses the status of 51 distinct provisions year-by-year for ten years in quantitative and qualitative form. This resource allows PAM researchers to identify empirical patterns and investigate systemic dynamics and processes comparatively within and across cases.

Over the past 18 months the Kroc Institute has established a new program in Colombia, the Barometer Initiative, to apply the PAM methodology to the challenge of contemporaneous monitoring of the Colombia Peace Accord. The Barometer Initiative examines the degree of implementation in 558 specific stipulations in the accord, which are then grouped into 18 themes and 74 subthemes. The PAM coding process employs a four-point ordinal scale: 0 for not initiated, 1 for minimal implementation, 2 for intermediate implementation, and 3 for full implementation. Scores are developed for each stipulation and are then aggregated to provide a percentage scoring of implementation for themes and subthemes and for the accord as a whole.

The coding process is based on an extensive information collection system that includes the daily review of dozens of published sources of information on the peace process in Colombia. This information is validated and supplemented through cross-checking of other data sources and the gathering of additional information and documentation through on-the-ground observation and investigation by a mobile team of peacebuilding professionals employed in Colombia. Through the first nine months of the peace implementation process, more than 3,500 event reports have been entered into PAM’s Colombia Peace Accords Matrix.

This massive collection of information creates a quantitative database which can be combined with qualitative assessment to evaluate the progress of implementation of the Colombian accord. The system for collecting and coding information also allows the PAM team to compare advances or setbacks in Colombia to similar patterns in other countries.

The Peace Accords Matrix project is based on empirical research findings that the implementation of the terms of a peace accord helps to prevent the recurrence of war between the signatory parties. The best strategy for preventing the renewal of war and achieving economic and social progress in the context of a negotiated peace accord is to implement the agreement to the fullest extent possible.

Comparative findings from other peace accords confirm the value of focusing on implementation. Among the parties that have signed and implemented comprehensive peace agreements at a high level, 84 percent have avoided a return to armed conflict. The higher the rate of accord implementation, the greater the likelihood of maintaining the ceasefire and moving beyond armed conflict. On average, every additional one percent of implementation corresponds to a six percent increase in peace duration.[1]

The data shows that high levels of implementation also generate economic and social benefits. When comprehensive peace agreements are fully implemented, the level of foreign investment in the affected country doubles over the following decade, while gross domestic product increases by five percent. This translates into more employment opportunities and improved livelihoods for people.

The benefits of fully implementing peace agreements also include greater access to education, on average leading to a 17 percent and 14 percent increase in primary school enrollment for girls and boys respectively. Health conditions also improve, as indicated by an average 20 percent decline in infant mortality rates.[2] These improvements in economic and social well-being indicate that prioritizing peace accord implementation generates broad public benefits.

[1] Madhav Joshi and Jason Michael Quinn, “Implementing the Peace: The Aggregate Implementation of Comprehensive Peace Agreements and Peace Duration after Intrastate Armed Conflict” British Journal of Political Science (2015): 1-24.

[2] Madhav Joshi & J. Michael Quinn, “Peace Dividend: Comprehensive Peace Agreement Implementation and Foreign Direct Investment in Post-Conflict States,” Midwest Political Science Association Annual Conference, Chicago (IL) April 16-19, 2015; and Madhav Joshi, “Comprehensive peace agreement implementation and reduction in neonatal, infant and under-5 mortality rates in post-armed conflict states, 1989–2012,” BMC international health and human rights 15.1 (2015): 27.

David Cortright is the Director of Policy Studies and the Peace Accords Matrix at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

Laurel Stone is Assistant Director of Policy Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.