As peace talks between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebels progress, both the World Bank and Germany pledged their legal and financial support with post-conflict initiatives and encouraged the two sides to reach an agreement this year.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed an agreement with the World Bank Tuesday to create a multi-donor fund to support post-conflict projects, which will reach more than US$3.8 million. The funding will be rolled out for three years in an initiative called Collective Reparations of Victims for Social Reconstruction.
The money is intended to help communities affected by the conflict, prioritizing those who already have an established repair plan with the government, reported El Espectador. This could affect up to 4 million people in the country.
However, it is unclear what the terms of this aid money will be. The World Bank operates on the principle of reducing poverty by promoting foreign investment and international trade – what could push against the advancements made by rural communities and the agricultural reforms already agreed upon in the peace negotiations.
The peace talks have been underway in Havana since November of 2012, with the Colombian government and the FARC rebels already making landmark agreements, including agricultural reforms. The accord calls for the redistribution of land to rural communities, as well as economic and social development in those areas. This was one of the main issues that led the FARC to form in the 1960s – to counter major land grabs of inhabited, rural areas.
In addition to the commitment made by the World Bank, Europe also showed its support for the peace process. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Colombia's capital Bogota over the weekend to discuss the negotiations, where it offered legal expertise to Colombia during its transition to peace.
The German Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism also said its commitment to Colombia will work to strengthen trade and economic integration with the South American nation.
In January, France also showed its support for the peace process and signed an agreement with the Colombian agriculture minister, committing to cooperate in the development of rural education in Colombia.
President Santos has said that a peace deal should be reached before October 2015 to allow the public the vote on the outcome during the country's regional elections that same month. The FARC, however, has urged the government not to rush the peace process.