Mediation in Social Conflict: Working with Colombia’s National and Local Levels

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Policy development dialogue with the Colombian National Planning Department (DNP)
The FOINCIDE team, together with the SALAR expert Bernard Le Roux, has been meeting with officials from the DNP to discuss ways of supporting the policy development process regarding social mediation. DNP presented the challenge of determining the nature of mediation process required for different social conflicts. DNP accompanied the project during the first phase of the training and the dialogue led to the creation of an analysis instrument that we call the Social Conflict Matrix.

The matrix is an innovative tool that considers both the level of complexity and the level of conflict escalation in any social conflict. It enables authorities to make choices about the type of mediation process and the level of competency required. The project has also suggested a simple guide for authorities on how to act and what to avoid at every conflict level to complement this tool.

Bernard le Roux, a Swedish mediator working with the FOINCIDE project, says: “Not only is this an innovative tool in Colombia, but it has created interest in Sweden where it will be tested with a traffic department in one of the large cities. It has also been met with interest in other European countries. This is a good example of co-creative dialogue in practice.”

Social mediation training on a municipal level
The project has also completed the second part of the training course for municipal representatives and members from civil society in Florída. Twenty-four participants received certificates at the end of the course. These participants were representatives from the four pilot municipalities (Florida, Cienaga, Montelibano and Apartado) and also from civil society organisations in Florída. The aim of the course was to present and teach ways of using dialogue to mediate in social conflicts.

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The mayor of Florída Diego Felipe Bustamante Arango visited the course on the second day and expressed his gratitude to SKL International and the Swedish Embassy for their support in this work. He pointed out that mediation in social conflicts is a new area of development in Colombia and that the course participants are pioneering an important part of the peace process.

It is SKL International’s hope that representatives from the municipalities will form groups that will work with conflicts on different levels in society on a local level. We have agreed with the representatives of the local government that they will assist us with the development and testing of the social conflict matrix.

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The FOINCIDE project is financed by Sida trough the Swedish Embassy in Colombia and is designed to contribute both to increasing citizen participation and socio-political inclusion, as well as to strengthen the decision making processes and provide tools for improved administration and public policies, based on the exchange of experiences, and in clear articulation and coordination between the municipal and national levels. The project will be implemented until December 2018 with a possible extension to December 2020.