Executive Summary

After more than 50 years of conflict, the Colombian Government and the leftist group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) signed a peace agreement in November 2016. The agreement—and the negotiations leading up to the final document—created an opportunity for addressing historical inequalities in the Colombian political system and its socio-economic structures. However, Colombian society remains deeply divided, as is common during processes of political settlement. Some of the aspirations of the peace agreement may be too ambitious and generate expectations that exceed the capacities of existing state institutions. In addition, opposition by political and social actors has been significant. At the same time, Colombia has made more progress on the state- and peace-building front than many other countries with a similar conflict background. This paper argues that the unfinished business of building a comprehensive, inclusive and ultimately resilient social contract in Colombia explains many of these tensions, which are examined through the lens of three postulated ‘drivers’ of a social contract, and how two ‘core conflict issues’ are addressed: the distribution and use of land, and illicit crops and the drug trade.

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