Eimer Arino


Integrating memories of culture, peace and conflict in Colombia

After 60 years of armed conflict, how can former combatants be integrated into peaceful societies?

That was one of the issues that confronted Colombia following the signing of the 2016 Peace Agreement between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

One solution, which responds to the third point of the Peace Agreement focused on the reintegration of former combatants, is to build on living heritage as a tool for dialogue and a vehicle for shared values. Following the signing of the Peace Agreement, residents from the village of El Conejo, in north-east Colombia, asked for assistance in building ties with residents from the nearby reintegration camp in Pondores, a temporary shelter for ex-combatants and their families during their transition to civilian life, where about 200 people live in one-room prefabricated houses.

Colombia bets on intangible cultural heritage for peacebuilding

The emergency International Assistance project entitled ‘Intangible cultural heritage as a basis for resilience, reconciliation and construction of peace environments in Colombia’s post-agreements’, granted in June 2018 under the UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund, responds to the third point of the Peace Agreement, and to the specific request made by local communities from El Conejo.

Building peace, our heritage

The project, which began in July 2018, follows a community-based methodology which has three parts: the strengthening of local capacities for the management of the intangible cultural heritage; a community-based inventory of intangible cultural heritage with the implementation of safeguarding measures; and a collective safeguarding of the historical memory of the territory. The hope is that by reflecting on their living heritage, their collective memory and common cultural values, residents and ex-combatants together will achieve a sense of symbolic reparation and forgiveness. The project will also enhance our understanding of how intangible cultural heritage can be mobilized as a means to achieve lasting peace, dialogue and social reconstruction in a post-conflict situation. Representatives of UNESCO and the Government of Colombia presented the project at the first Paris Peace Forum, from 11 to 13 November 2018.Integrating memories of culture, peaceand conflict in Colombia.