Is the United Nations development programme,

Is the United Nations Development Programme, PNUD, the solution to Colombia’s armed struggle? Or is it merely another facade for the development of Colombian society?

Reports emanating from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia claimed that, within the first 18 yearss of 2001, one hundred and 70 civilians were killed in atrociousnesss and slayings related to the enfeebling civil war in the state. ( Ruiz, 2001:3 )

It is a annihilating statistic and one that proves that, in the most notoriously unstable continent in the universe, Colombia stands out as Latin America’s most corrupt crowned head province. Taken within the broader South American context of military putschs, absolutisms, foreign intercession and economic prostration, Colombia is entirely in ne’er holding to the full experimented with allowing the people to govern the state, exacerbated by a entire deficiency of democratic tradition. Although Colombia might feature the facade of a operation democracy it is a democracy that has merely electors, non citizens with corruptness ruling every aspect of political life. As Duncan Ivison ( 2000:126 ) explains ; “conceptions of citizenship are closely related to constructs of legitimacy and stability.” Thus, with a complete deficiency of stableness and no legitimacy, Colombia’s governing powers have condemned the country’s people to decennaries of struggle, battle and loss of life with the development of society sacrificed in favor of the continuance of internal warfare.

For the intent of the undermentioned scrutiny, the United Nations Development Programme ( PNUD as it is known in Latin America – UNDP as it is known in English speech production states ) must be placed in its right socio?political context, which involves analysis refering the complex nature of the armed struggle in Colombia. Furthermore, the survey must likewise dressed ore on the political, societal and military construction of the state in order to underline the alone nature of modern-day Colombian civilization, enabling a decision to be drawn that will take to propose that the future promotion of Latin American society is a job that can merely be solved from within. First, nevertheless, a definition of the PNUD, its purposes and duties is required.

The PNUD is an built-in portion of the UN planetary development web, soon at work in one hundred and sixty six independent states throughout the universe. It is funded by preponderantly Western capital, channelled through the World Bank. Money is afforded to the states under its legal power by changeless monitoring and coverage on the advancement in targeted countries. The administration works with local authorities bureaus, civil societies and the regional media to stream?line national policy into a homogeneous motion with the ultimate purpose of the improved criterion of life for the full state in inquiry. In footings of Colombia, this means working actively with local and national authoritiess to guarantee that information and socio?political assistance is disseminated to the more distant parts of the state, which are in fact the countries that constitute the front line of Colombia’s ongoing civil war.

Indeed it is the armed struggle that needfully implies alone jobs for the United Nation’s solution to Colombia’s socio?political ailments because of the drawn-out nature of the combat. Unlike civil wars in Europe, conflicts in Latin America tend to take the signifier of guerilla contending – akin to the humanitarianly and economically decimating battle seen in Vietnam – which makes a declaration all the harder to come by. Guerrilla wars tend to be long, drawn out personal businesss with the incessant, drip?tap consequence of casualties merely able to be to the full understood after old ages and old ages of combat. The decimating effects of the Colombian civil war has meant that, harmonizing to Gonzalo Sanchez ( 2001:debut) , over 200000 people lost their lives between the old ages 1945 and 1965.

As a effect, struggle and partizan political relations are ingrained in consecutive coevalss of Colombian males, while about all of the major supporters remain out of the range of the legislative and cultural tentacles of the province. It is a struggle historically defined by paramilitary administrations and the ill-famed drug trusts. Kevin Sullivan ( 2004: A36 ) inside informations the generation of the modern embodiment of the Colombian armed struggle.

“Paramilitary groups formed in the late 1980s to assist constabulary and the military conflict guerilla groups, most notably the 18000-strong Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Although the paramilitary combatants operate outside the jurisprudence, they were launched with the silent support of many functionaries, along with concern involvements such as affluent ranchers who have been targeted for old ages by Marxist forces.”

The war transcends the bounds between civic and military discourse and is characterised by the snatch and murdering of civilians. During the frequent interludes in the combat, the state is able to masquerade as a operation crowned head province, purporting to be a political contemplation of its beleaguered people. At its worst, the struggle brings Colombia, rather literally, to its articulatio genuss, as Stephen Smith ( 2000:128 ) high spots with mention to the country’s 1997 general election.

“Before elections in October 1997, decease squads non merely killed left?wing politicians in some countries, but besides frogmarched the full population out of certain towns before the polling booths opened. Some campaigners were elected with a smattering of ballots because of the abduction of the electorate.”

The important point to observe is that the Colombian struggle is unlike the criterion conflicts that the UN has hitherto helped to spread in the past, such as the struggle in Serbia during the 1990’s. Yet, added to the troublesome strategic and geographic dimensions of the struggle, the Colombian civil war is besides scarred by more common characteristics of dissent such as race, ethnicity and societal category. Broadly talking the land proprietors and right wing extremists are descendants of the rich Spanish colonial households, who have held the reigns to the mechanizations of Colombian political power since independency. The left wing groups and paramilitary administrations are, conversely, made up about entirely of autochthonal Indian Colombians who are ideologically opposed to allowing the traditional swayers of the state to go on their absolutism. The Colombian armed struggle is therefore inherently complex, uniting the worst geo?political surpluss of the Cold War with the most moneymaking drug trafficking path on the planet. The freshness of the state of affairs calls for the acceptance of a new attack, non for the regurgitation of past failures in the part.

Past attempts at international assistance bundles have bequeathed jobs refering to the distribution of fundss, a failure the PNUD does non wish to retroflex. Colombia has long since been a beginning of concern for the West, peculiarly the United States whose boundary lines are so near, easy penetrable by the pandemic of South American drug traders that continue to traverse over it. The state has accordingly been the topic of significant international assistance attempts in the yesteryear and has by and large squandered the economic and cultural resources at its disposal. The USA entirely has set $ 3.3 billion in assistance since 2000. In fact, the surplus of assistance sent to Colombia has, in the yesteryear, been cited as a major ground for the prolongation of the armed struggle, as Noam Chomsky ( 1996:100 ) inside informations with respects to the mid?nineties attempt to economically help some of the most disadvantaged parts of rural Colombia.

“The current rush in military?paramilitary atrociousnesss in Colombia seems to be portion of land?grab attempts related to a multi?billion dollar development undertaking in the part. The paramilitary are closely linked to the landholders, ranchers and narcotics sellers, one of the most of import of who late became the supreme commanding officer of the paramilitary units of the Magdalena Medio part, long known for the close co?operation of the military, drug Godheads, landholders and paramilitary forces.”

This illustration serves to foreground the badness of the socio?political job in Colombia, one that amounts to a ageless province of entire corruptness. The cardinal nexus in this web of corruptness is without a uncertainty the Army. As the physical manifestation of the political values of the province, its transcendency into the private domain of corruptness and the black market represents the biggest obstruction to the PNUD attempt to convey an terminal to the struggle. It is now prudent to speak in footings of the intended solution to the deep?seated jobs that comprise the modern-day Colombian armed struggle.

The PNUD purposes to play its portion in seting an terminal to the combat by educating and funding local authoritiess and civil societies under the broader umbrella of the UN anti?poverty policy, the Millennium Campaign, launched in 2002. The Millennium Campaign is an independent subdivision of the PNUD that concentrates on research and implementing development schemes in the states in which it operates. As a consequence, it is more theoretical than pro?active and does non mean to aim the culprits of the on-going guerilla run in the agricultural countries of Colombia. However, by aiming the poorest members of society, the PNUD believes it will break up the chord that links political extremists to the rural Colombian population. This is what the PNUD means when it refers to ‘constructing consensus’ ; hammering an confederation between the bulk sectors of the Colombian population that are morally opposed to the continuance of the modern-day position quo. The organisation’s web site ( first viewed 18/01/06 ) explains its stance as follows:

“In Colombia, the PNUD has embarked on an ambitious scheme of national and regional information that are constructed with ample procedures of citizen engagement. They are an purpose in every bit much as they diagnose the progresss and failings of the development procedure, and explicate concrete proposals to progress human development.”

The PNUD’s response to the on-going Colombian armed struggle should hence be read as the launching of the organisation’s ain struggle against poorness –thecardinal modern-day argument for the United Nations at the morning of the 20 first century. Viewed in this context, the PNUD appears to be yet another economic reply to a sociological inquiry. However, there can be no uncertainty that hapless direction of national economic systems is at the epicenter of Latin America’s societal unease. Furthermore, there can be little more conjecture refering the awkwardness of South American state’s financial policies, interfering in the running of national economic systems by increasing duties and withdrawing in the cardinal rules of free trade. As De Martino ( 2000:6 ) helps, “the state’s function is to back up and help the market, non to conflict it.”

The UN, via the PNUD, aims to set an terminal to the socialist inclinations prevalent in all Latin American states by presenting the economic construct of neo?liberalism to the cardinal authoritiess of the continent. This involves understating province intercession in the economic system and abandoning political policy to the ideals of the free market economic system ; in short, accommodating to the same economic and political system that exists in the West. In this sense the UN programme in South America is so another facade for the intended development of the continent along pre?ordained Western, preponderantly American lines. It is at this occasion that the economic and political facets of the PNUD strategy for re?building Colombia appear ill?founded and missing in foresight.

Colombia, and so all of Latin America, is historically opposed to the capitalist ideals of the West, particularly the USA. Successive efforts to enforce capitalist economy and right wing authoritiess in Honduras, Ecuador, El Salvador and, most infamously, Chile have left a bequest of deep?rooted misgiving in South America, nowhere every bit leery as Colombia where the US armed forces has been an of all time preset force for the past two decennaries. Added to this tradition of contention and common hostility is the widespread intuition that the UN is simply a smoke screen for the USA, integrating the policy of ‘globalisation’ that, harmonizing to Friedman ( 1999:9 ) , “means the spread of free?market capitalist economy to virtually every corner in the world.”

Colombia hence fears a gradual debut of US cultural imperialism throughout the part that will finally see the South American provinces going little more than North American orbiters in the approaching century. This is the ground behind the accent on the airing of information within PNUD literature that amounts to a propaganda run aimed at stilling Colombian frights of a capitalist take?over of their autonomous state. The jobs confronting the PNUD are therefore countless and mostly beyond its control.


It can be seen that there are many obstructions to come on, the development of Colombian society and solutions aimed at conveying an terminal to the domestic armed struggle, most of which are outside of the remit of either the United Nations or its development enterprises. Colombia is a state ravaged by paramilitary war, the likes of which can non be diffused with strategic municipal and civil authorities support, and instruction entirely. The moneymaking international weaponries trade keeps the state at weaponries length from peace with no punishments or Torahs in topographic point to forestall the farther distribution of arms. For every bit long as the state is at the clemency of the drug Godheads, paramilitaries and autocratic political extremists, attempts such as the UN programme outlined above base small opportunity of ordaining long term alteration in Colombia.

Though the PNUD has targeted the right beginnings of struggle in Colombia it has small opportunity of doing a touchable difference without sponsorship and backing from the of import societal, military and political figures inside of Colombia, those who hold the cardinal offices of power and influence. Merely via a combined attempt of internal declaration and external assistance will Colombia get down to come on as a society and travel off from the cultural wont of corruptness and civil war. However, as was the instance in Northern Ireland, even when a solution has been found that appears to suit the will of all of the delegates involved, development can merely get down when weaponries have been laid to rest.


Bethell, L. ( Ed. ) ( 1998 )Latin America: Politicss and Society since 1930Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Chomsky, N. ( 1996 )Powers and Prospects: Contemplations on Human Nature and the Social OrderLondon: Pluto

De Martino, G. ( 2000 )Global Economy, Global Justice: Theoretical Expostulations and Policy Alternatives to Neo?liberalismLondon: Routledge

Friedman, M. ( 1999 )The Lexus and the Olive TreeNew York: Farrar, Straus & A ; Giroux

Lievesley, G. ( 1999 )Democracy in Latin AmericaManchester: Manchester University Press

Small, W. et Al ( 1996 )Political Corruptness in Latin America and EuropeLondon: Palgrave Macmillan

McKinnon, C. and Hampsher?Monk, I. ( Eds. ) ( 2000 )The Demands of CitizenshipLondon: Continuum

Murillo, M.A. and Avirama, J.R. ( 2003 )Colombia and the United States: War, Terrorism and DestabilisationNew York: Seven Narratives

Ruiz, B. ( 2001 )The Colombian Civil WarLondon: Macfarlane & A ; Co.

Sanchez, G. et Al ( 2001 )Bandits, Peasants, and Politicss: the instance of ‘La violencia’ in ColombiaTexas: University of Texas Press

Smith, S. ( 2000 )The Cocaine TrainLondon: Abacus

Selected Articles

Ivison, D. ( 2000 )Modus Vivendi Citizenship, quoted in, McKinnon, C. and Hampsher?Monk, I. ( Eds. )The Demands of CitizenshipLondon: Continuum


Sullivan, K. ( 26 December 2004 )Disarmament holds out elusive hope for peace in Colombia: Paramilitary Groups could easy lift once more warn skeptics, quoted in,The Washington Post

Web sites

PNUD web site ; hypertext transfer protocol: //

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *