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Research Report

The Interface Between Domestic and International Factors in Colombia’s War System

Nazih Richani
Copyright Date: Aug. 1, 2003
Published by: Clingendael Institute
Pages: 33

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-2)
  2. (pp. 3-3)
  3. (pp. 5-5)

    This paper is part of a larger research project, ‘Coping with Internal Conflict’ (CICP), which was executed by the Conflict Research Unit of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’ for the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The CICP, whic h was finalized at the end of 2002, consisted of three components: ‘The Political Economy of Internal Conflict’; ‘Managing Group Grievances and Internal Conflict’; and ‘Security Sector Reform’. This paper was written in the framework of the research component ‘The Political Economy of Internal Conflict’.

    Addressing the political economy of internal conflict calls for policies based on good analysis, and...

  4. (pp. 7-7)
  5. (pp. 9-9)

    This paper discusses the intersection of international and local factors and its impact on the Colombian conflict and its dynamics. It is divided into three main sections designed to address the issues with regard to main research questions on the interface relationship between domestic and international dimensions. The first section discusses the role of international actors such as multinational corporations in Colombia’s war economy. The second section explores the commodities and regional-international networks that link the Colombian war system with the international system. This section focuses on the main commodities and activities that comprise the resource bases of the war...

  6. (pp. 11-16)

    The role of multinational corporations in the Colombian conflict can be summed up in two main areas: one is their impact on land conflict in their areas of operations; the other is that they stimulate the predatory behaviour of the warring actors - the state, guerrillas and paramilitaries.

    Conflict over land is not new in Colombia and has been one of its most enduring legacies since colonial times. Land conflicts have passed through different phases and witnessed significant changes in terms of classes involved, the political articulations of these conflicts, and the regional and international contexts of these conflicts. This...

  7. (pp. 17-28)

    Colombia’s geographic position at the gate of South America has been more of a curse than a blessing as the country’s most recent history attests. Since the Spanish conquest, the Colombian Caribbean coasts have served as a corridor for contraband and the transit of slaves, gold and merchandise. After the 1903 independence of Panama from Colombia, these routes were largely maintained by new generations of contrabandists and subsequently by narcotraffickers. Ample evidence indicates that between 1968 and 1970 the first contacts for US traffickers to transport marijuana from the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta on the Atlantic coast were Colombian...

  8. (pp. 29-32)

    The interplay of the following international and national trade regimes are exacerbating the Colombian conflict. Changing or reconfiguring these regimes is hence essential to resolve this conflict and to build the bases of a sustainable peace based on social equity and democracy. Four trade regimes are noted to play a critical role in the political economy of Colombia’s war system. The first is the drug prohibition regime and laxity in controlling money laundering that reveals the participation of international as well as local financial institutions; the second is the lack of multinational corporations’ accountability in conflict states; thirdly, the international...

  9. (pp. 33-35)

    Private armies are nothing new, but have been part and parcel of state formation in Europe since ancient times. Increasingly large and centrally financed and supplied armies that were equipped with advanced weapons gradually replaced decentralized self-equipped feudal militias. This historical process was largely propelled by economic developments, the necessities of warfare, and the ability of the states to raise taxes and eliminate the resistance of fiefdoms’ refusals to approve requisite taxes.61 In sharp contrast, however, since its independence in 1810 the Colombian state has faced the resistance of local bosses’ efforts to centralize, pay taxes, and to strengthen its...