Project: Peacebuilding amidst ongoing violence: The Contribution of the Swedish Police Training Program to Sustainable Peace in Colombia

The project evaluates the training program for Colombia's police force which the Swedish Police commenced in 2013 as part of the international effort to reform the security sector in a country mired by decades of internal armed conflict.

Project information

Project manager
Manuela Nilsson
Other project members
Cecilia Jonsson and Ola Kronkvist
May 1 2018-Dec 31 2022
Peace and Development Studies and Police Science (Department of Social Studies, Department of Criminolgy and Police Work, Faculty of Social Sciences)

More about the project

The reconstruction of societies broken by prolonged periods of violent conflict is one of today’s biggest challenges. International peacebuilding strategies underline the need to establish a close partnership between international and local actors that allows for a gradual shift towards local ownership, a prerequisite for sustainable peace. A key component of those strategies is the reform of the security sector (SSR), which has the objective to prepare the police and military of a country that emerges from protracted conflict for work within the frameworks of democracy, peace, civilian rule and a state of law. This reform, however, is severely hampered by the persisting levels of high violence so characteristic for today’s post-conflict environments since the challenges for security actors in these environments differ considerably from the scenarios for which current peacebuilding scenarios were originally designed.

Colombia is a prime example of a country currently facing this dilemma. The peace process to end the internal armed conflict in Colombia, which dates from the 1960s and therefore constitutes the oldest conflict in the Western Hemisphere, reached another milestone in the fall of 2016 with the signing and ratification of a peace agreement between the main conflict actors, the Colombian government and the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (abbreviated FARC). However, other armed groups, in part a result of previous, somewhat unsuccessful disarmament and demobilization efforts, continue to devastate parts of the country. Violence levels are particularly high in the rural areas where drug trade has since decades fuelled illegal activities, and they are even expected to rise in the implementation period of the fragile peace that has been reached.

As a part of the international effort to build peace in Colombia, the Swedish Police commenced in 2013 a training program for Colombia’s police force which has been funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). The program combined training with focus on specific issues, such as domestic and sexual violence, with capacitation in new methodologies for police education and leadership. A second and final funding period (2018-2020) was recently granted by SIDA and aims at strengthening the police to particularly work within the framework of the construction of sustainable peace. Prevention, education and police management are core elements of that second phase. Staff members from Linnaeus University’s police training institution, in close cooperation with counterparts from the police in Colombia, were – and still are – instrumental in the execution of both phases of the training program.