The Colombian Private Sector in Colombia’s Transition to Peace

Book chapter

Rettberg, Angelika (2019) The Colombian Private Sector in Colombia’s Transition to Peace, in Civil Action and the Dynamics of Violence. Oxford: Oxford University Press (255–278).

Publisher's webpage

During the Colombian civil war, businesses undertook both civil and uncivil actions, but the civil action of a “pro-peace coalition” was among the many factors moving the conflict toward its (uneasy) settlement in 2016. This chapter documents the civil action efforts of a pro-peace coalition, explores how support for these efforts changed over time—particularly in the last two attempts to negotiate peace, in Caguán (1998–2002) and in Havana, Cuba (2012–2016), and focuses on the motivations behind them. Contrary to simplistic analyses, it demonstrates that the profit motive alone cannot explain business strategies in contexts of conflict and peacebuilding. Contextual factors, the type of organization, and access to politics are important in understanding how business factions respond to armed conflict, including those participating in civil action within the “pro-peace coalition” and those aligning themselves with armed actors. The explanation of Colombian business strategies to address armed conflict holds lessons for understanding business-led civil action in other countries.

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