Yesterday, Libraries Without Borders unveiled plans for its new Ideas Box program in Colombia at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual conference in New York. In partnership with the Colombian Ministry of Culture, LWB will implement cultural programs in the isolated and rural areas of Colombia to support peacebuilding with ex-FARC.
At each year’s CGI Annual Meeting, members are asked to make a “Commitment to Action.” This year, LWB’s commitment is titled “Ideas Boxes for Ex-FARC and Rural Areas in Colombia.” Commended as “an exemplary approach to addressing critical challenges,” CGI has selected LWB’s commitment as a “featured commitment,” and will be livestreaming more information about LWB’s peacebuilding work on Wednesday, September 22nd at 4PM Eastern at: http://live.clintonglobalinitiative.org.
After five decades of armed conflict in Colombia between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Government of Colombia, an estimated 218,094 people have died (81% of whom were civilians) and an additional 5 million people have been displaced. In June 2016, the FARC and the Government of Colombia signed a ceasefire. A peace treaty was finalized on August 24, 2016. Pending a referendum scheduled for October 2, the Colombian Government will begin relocating former FARC members to temporary normalization zones, beginning the transitional justice period which is planned to last at least 180 days.
Most of these ex-combatants come from poor, rural communities. Throughout the duration of the conflict, the Government of Colombia has faced several challenges in providing services in rural areas. Such voids created vulnerable spaces for non-democratically elected authorities to take control. Libraries Without Borders sees a narrow window of opportunity for the international community to support the Government of Colombia in closing rifts between ex-combatants and Colombian citizens, and to build strong bridges for reintegration at the offset.
Libraries Without Borders (LWB) has partnered with the Colombian Ministry of Culture and the National Library of Colombia to utilize Ideas Box programs for peacebuilding. The design of this intervention is based upon the premise that cultural programs are critical for individuals and communities who have faced crisis and conflict. The mobility provided by the Ideas Box design will allow the Colombian Ministry of Culture to reach FARC ex-combatants and civilians in all 20 special jurisdictions and other prioritized rural communities.
LWB will place one Ideas Box in each of the 20 special jurisdictions set aside for demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants. The focus of this first phase of the project, in alignment with the Government’s 180-day demobilization strategy, is to offer FARC ex-combatants cultural tools and programs aimed at building trust between ex-combatants, Colombian citizens and Government institutions. Contents for each Ideas Box will be curated by experts from both LWB and the National Library of Colombia.