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The Peace Narrative: Telling the Story the Right Way

The signing of a peace agreement between the government and the FARC in Havana is close at hand. The Colombian government and the FARC are close to signing a historic peace agreement in Havana.

- How do you keep Colombians interested in the issue of peace?
- We need to develop a new narrative around peace, one that is more global, more inclusive and more forward-looking.

The winds of change are beginning to blow in Colombia. The government and the FARC will sign a peace agreement in Havana in the near future, a development that will have profound implications for the future of the country.

Much has been said about the role of communications in nation building in a post-conflict Colombia. It’s essential for Colombians in every region of the country to understand the agreements and their responsibility for implementing them. A solid communications strategy will foster greater confidence in the process and active citizen engagement in building a sustainable peace.

It will be equally important to inform the international community about the post-conflict transition .
But Colombia has to be prepared to tell the story the right way in order to inform, persuade, and engage the different audiences.

The communications challenge is formidable: How do you keep Colombians interested in the issue of peace? How do you ensure that they take ownership of the challenges that the post-conflict period will present? How do you maintain the international community’s interest after the peace agreement has been signed in Havana? And how do you get international allies to reorient their development priorities so that Colombia can advance?
More than educating people about the demands of the post-conflict period, Colombia must develop a new narrative around peace, one that is more global, more inclusive and more forward-looking. Its communications strategy must be seen as a key tool for building a peaceful society and the international support needed to realize the goals of the agreements.

And by communications, we don’t mean simply telling the different actors what to expect after the agreement is signed. That story will be important but not enough. We’re talking about effectively involving all the actors, listening to them and incorporating their ideas so they are committed to change and the construction of a new country.
The signing of a peace accord will not be the end of Colombia’s problems. Everyone is aware of the many challenges that remain but these are manageable. The country has experienced a transformation, showing significant improvements in its development indicators and security indices over the past 15 years. The conditions for peace and implementing the terms of the accords are more favorable  than in years past, in spite of the challenges ahead.
And Colombia has a golden opportunity to reorient its development policies and build a new social fabric in the regions long riven by conflict.

The many multinational companies that invest in Colombia and depend on its already solid sustainability policies should view the post-conflict period as an opportunity to contribute to further progress in Colombia’s sustainable development.
The signing of the peace accord presents Colombia with the opportunity to remake its global image. The entire international community will see the end of the armed conflict with the oldest guerrilla movement in the country as a success. The country will have to stop behaving like a victim of conflict in order to become a beacon of peace. But a solid communications strategy must be in place to tell that story the right way.

Senior Director, Newlink.

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