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Colombia's Attempt at Peace: An Analysis of the Demobilization of the Auto-Defensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC)

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Master's thesis

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This thesis analyzes the Government of Colombias GOCs demobilization of the paramilitary organizations known collectively as the Auto-defensas Unidas de Colombia AUC and the re-insertion of its fighters into Colombian society. So far, this DDR process has not achieved the majority its goals, while other problems loom on the horizon. The thesis addresses the implications for Colombia and makes recommendations for future DDR processes. The study divides the process into two elements the agreement between the AUC and the GOC, and the implementation of the terms of the agreement. The contract between the two parties is found in Colombian Law 782 of 2002 and 975 of 2005, better known as the Peace and Justice Law. The Ministry of Justice and of Interior is responsible for implementing the terms found in these laws. A central argument of this thesis is that, in order for the GOC successfully to carry out DDR of the AUC, it must not only contend with current and former paramilitary members, but must also address the societal problems that permit illegal armed groups to thrive in Colombia. Success in Colombia must be matched in the international community which must perceive the DDR process as legitimate. In short, if the public perceives penalties as being too lenient, the process will be delegitimized. If penalties are perceived as being too harsh by the former paramilitary members, or the Paras, they will likely stop participating and reconstitute their former organizations. In order to prevent either of these pitfalls, the GOC must develop a formula that gains control over former AUC controlled terrain and its population, essentially extending government control throughout the country. This is the only way to prevent both de-legitimization of the process and former paramilitary members from reconstituting their organizations. If the GOC can accomplish this, the DDR will be successful if it cannot, the DDR will fail.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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