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A focus on ethnicity in implementing the peace accords in Colombia: Tensions and inequalities.

The relevance of ethnicity as a central to the understanding of the roots of the armed conflict (particularly, the conflicts over land) and its challenges in transitioning to peace, was recognized in the “Acuerdo Final de Paz” (Final Peace Accord), as an “ethnic chapter” was added that establishes ethnicity as a transversal perspective in the interpretation and implementation of the peace agreement. This has implications for the six components of the agreement, including the rights of afro-descendants and indigenous people over lands, territories, and resources, their rights to restitution, the right to be consulted before any disposition, and the protection of their particular remembrance expressions.
There is a potentially contentious element to the integral rural reform (point 1 of the peace agreement) since certain provisions established in this section could affect lands and territories occupied or possessed ancestrally by ethnic communities. At a glance, three different tensions can be identified:

1) Social tensions generated by lands that will be titled and distributed by the Fondo de Tierras (Land Fund) stipulated in the agreements (some of these lands are a product of asset recovery from paramilitary leaders and other illegal proprietors),

2) social tensions generated by the restitution of lands in ordinance with the Ley de Victimas (Victims Law), and with international treaties concerning transitional justice, and

3) tensions risen from differing points of view on land use rights between those who consider entitlement on the grounds of ethnicity and culture (like collective territories of black and indigenous communities), those who claim entitlement as rural land workers (like rural reserves or "zonas de reserva campesina" ZRC),  those who support big scale agro-export models (like the recently created Zonas de Interés de Desarrollo Económico y Social, ZIDRES), or the ones that resolve temporarily immediate needs (with the potential to become permanent) of the disarmament,demobilization and reintegration of the members of the FARC (like the Zonas Veredales Transitorias de Normalización, ZVTN).

To achieve a durable and stable peace, it is paramount to 1) prevent that the peace agreements generate new conflicts over land use and ownership, and 2) safeguard the reduction of territorial and ethnic inequalities through the implementation of the peace agreement.

This research (which is intended to last two years), will have the Colombian Pacific as its geographical center, a place of ethnic diversity where numerous indigenous and afro descendant groups have coexisted, and where there have been serious interethnic tensions due to land. In addition to an academic paper on territorial inequalities, this research will be framed in two future publications: 1) a book compiling research summaries of projects developed within the desiguALdades.net network, that deal with inequalities between the Atlantic and the Black Pacific, in coauthorship with Sergio Costa, Rocio Vera and Jario Baquero; 2) a Habilitationsschrift (professorial dissertation) about the role of international law in the configuration of interdependent inequalities.